Friday, March 10, 2017

Jean-Michel Jarre - Equinoxe CD

I wanted some examples of Jean-Michel Jarre's synth work, and what I received for Christmas was the Equinoxe CD. His first big hit was with Oxygene, in 1976, which was a low-budget home recording on the Eminent 310 and a Korg Minipops drum machine, with an eight-track recorder. According to the liner notes, the sudden popularity he'd gained scared him, and he didn't really know how to go about scoring a follow-up album. What he eventually did create, Equinoxe, in 1978, is more sequencer heavy, with several synths (an ARP 2600, an EMS Synthi AKS and a Yamaha CS-60) and quite a few sequencers (ARP Sequencer, Oberheim Digital Sequencer, Geiss Matrisequencer 250, Geiss Rhythmicomputer) and an EMS Vocoder.

The result is very "new agey," with gradual, rolling sounds that build up like waves and then collapse, and twinkly bits and cosmic whooshes. There are 8 songs, with a 39 minute play time. According to the wiki entry the songs are divided into two suites (Equinoxe parts 1-4, and parts 5-8). I guess you could liken the first suite to Holst's "Planets", while the second one contains a lot of thunder and rain effects, making me think of a storm on an African savanna. Overall, it's perfect background music for when you're doing something else and don't want the music to distract you. I found it very hard to focus specifically on the synth effects, and my mind would wander after a while. But in a good way, in contrast to Wendy Carlos' works. I'm keeping it on my play list, although my go-to for synth albums is still Tangerine Dream, followed by Kraftwerk.

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