RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

CD Feature/ Jean-Michel Jarre: "Teo & Tea"

img  Tobias

When Jean-Michel Jarre released Oxgene in 1977, he was 29 years old and the world listened to the album with incredulity: Just like Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”, the work displayed a deepness beyond his age, a remarkable technical savvy, a unique blend of sound and composition and a timelessness uncommon to a decade quickly learning the vocabulary of hype. The amazing success of his factual debut made him a cautious and media-shy man, who would hide behind mega-concerts and laser shows and refuse to communicate with his fans beyond the absolutely necessary. The veneer started to crumble in the late 90s (only shortly after he had managed to draw millions of new fans around the globe with two outspoken back to the roots albums: “Chronologie” and “Oxygene 7-13”) when he discovered the four to the floor beat, remixes, lounge and chill out culture as well as ambient jazz – and has now reached point break with “Teo & Tea”.

This album, which comes both in the regular stereo version and a 5.1. mix, has nothing to do with the spaceous, darkly flowing, vividly floating soundscapes of his earlier oeuvre at all anymore. As if to make that abundantly clear, the production mirrors the shift in artistic interst, with the bass drum of the eponimous first single going into regions of the equalizer which will have your neighbours calling for the return of lynch justice. Also, the myriads of layers carefully placed over each other on his “Metamorphoses” album (the most obvious point of reference with its direct grooves and pop-techno-allusions), which one could virtually listen to individually without ever getting bored, have made way for a transparently shimmering surface of a few simple tracks. While disappointed fans are already praying for a miracle, asking the album to unravel its hidden secrets, the realists already know that there are none: “Tea & Tea” has no mysteries to offer and no lives to save. Does that make it a bad album? Not at all. Quite to the contrary, Jarre has finally made a real incision and allowed everyone to hate him, his friends and his critics alike, but the result is well-defined and actually unique in its own way again – something even his most prominent defenders have occsionally found it hard to spell out over the last ten years. The new style is built around pumping beats, seemingly simple chord schemes, catchy leads and bubbling melodic fragments interlocking like futuristic gearwheels, as well as the occasional cheesy vocal sample and expresses itself in poignant and relentlessly streamlined songs without words. It is true (as evil tongues have claimed) that you can have a Jarre album run in the background without receiving angry looks or take it with you while jogging for the first time ever, but it works just as well with eyes closed. There is an enormous energy and optimism in these pieces, which echo the composer’s eternal creed that it is so much harder and yet much more valuable to create uplifting music than depressiv one.

Whether you like this album or not, you are sucked through it from beginning to end in its breathless pace and uncompromising attitude. But it is only towards the end, that the real motivation for his change in perspective becomes clear. On “Vintage” Jarre once again digs out his hypnotic themes, but places them over a brutal dance beat, somewhere between total mockery and irresistible pop-appeal. It is then that you realize that this is him catching up on his childhood, refusing to grow up and trying to have as much fun as possible while he still can. It is almost as if he wants to tell the world that he is round to stay for quite some time and that the serious late work can wait. That in itself is “fresh news” indeed, whatever you might tkink of “Tea & Tea”.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Jean-Michel Jarre
Homepage: Warner Music

Related articles

CD Feature/ Redshift: "Last"
Halucinatory sequencing: Relies on the ...
Klaus Schulze: An "Electronic Music Legend" in bookstores
„Klaus Schulze – Electronic Music ...
CD Feature/ Brendan Pollard: "Flux Echoes"
Sounds like the biggest thing ...
Discovering New Worlds
Dynamic thrust and Zen-like calm: ...
CD Feature/ Steve Schroyder: "Klänge des Lebens"
Cohesive, catchy and conclusive: The ...
Vital Weekly 574
Frans de Waard presents the ...
CD Feature/ Graham Bowers: "Eternal Ghosts"
A brutal exorcism: Clustered choirs, ...
Vital Weekly 569
Frans de Waard presents the ...
CD Feature/ Steve Roach: "Proof Positive"
No computer in the world ...
CD Feature/ Steve Schroyder: "Klänge Bilder Welten"
A concept album about different ...
CD Feature/ Klangwelt: "XOIO"
Surprisingly minimal, yet maximally expressive ...
15 Questions to Robert Schroeder
It has taken almost one ...
CD Feature/ Steve Schroyder: "Sun"
Built up like a classic ...
CD Feature/ Rogue Element: "Premonition"
Not “retro” at all
CD feature: Klaus Schulze: "Picture Music"
Probably all just a tad ...
CD Feature - Klaus Schulze: "Dig it"
The 80s were digital!

Partner sites