This day 44 years ago Jean-Michel Jarre released the electro-ambient masterpiece known as Oxygène (5 December 1976, Les Disques Motors / Polydor).
It was the French-composers first release which was not intended as a soundtrack, a front-runner in electronic music, the album which brought Jarre into the mainstream almost overnight was also overlooked in certain parts of the world upon release, as it coincided with the surge in the punk-movement but unmistakable in the delivery and synth advances.
Though it did go on to sell fifteen-million copies, a remarkable feat for an album without a singer, lyrics or even a guitar, in the nineteen-seventies this was almost unheard-of, Kraftwerk had incorporated guitar, drums and violins into their work as to did Tangerine Dream, then again these are bands and Oxygène was composed, constructed and produced by a single individual.
The modern-day Mozart created a landscape of sound embedded with his own unique charm, created through the VCS synthesizers, mellophonium, mellotron and programmed rhythms it was a complete electronic production unlike those of his counterparts such as Mike Oldfield, this was a record relying solely on technical advances. However, the studio used to record the album was Jean-Michel Jarre’s own kitchen in his apartment using an eight-track recorder,
Without a track-list as such only a breakdown of six-segments (Parts I-VI) the most famous of course the dance-floor filling “Part IV” released as a single in 1977 and going top-ten in most European-territories, this joyous crescendo is another instantly recognized piece of music.
The inspiration for the album came from a painting by Michel Granger, that painting adorns the album cover, instantly recognized , a precursor to the climate-change movement revealing death as the earth is ravaged, as resounding an image as it is, Jarre also foretold the future in the very-fresh sounding album.
Oxygène (Original 1976 Track List)
Oxygène (Part I) – 7:40
Oxygène (Part II) – 7:39
Oxygène (Part III) – 3:20
Oxygène (Part IV) – 4:03
Oxygène (Part V) – 10:26
Oxygène (Part VI) – 6:22