Album-Review: Jean Michel Jarre – Electronica 2

_fbk0004Not even a year upon the release of the first part of the two-part saga Electronica, Jean-Michel Jarre already releases his second part, “The Heart of Noise”.

Just like for the first album, Jarre went above and beyond to get exceptional guests, but this time it seems they are somewhat rarer, less trendy and sometimes much more surprising than for the first opus. Indeed, where on the first album we had the pleasure to hear Jarre’s style blending with many of today’s most popular electronic acts (Fuckbuttons, M83, Gesaffelstein, etc.), for this second album, the guests are as unexpected, various and incredible as Hans Zimmer, Primal Scream, Cyndi Lauper, Christophe, etc. The creativity and variation in the work produced is simply breathtaking at times.

The colours are evolving gracefully to match the various collaborators. Just like for the first opus, it is simply impressive and mesmerizing how Jean-Michel Jarre has managed to work with so many collaborators, and for each song, to blend his own style with the one of his guest, each time creating something new and unique, that is both his, and theirs. Both styles are heard, recognizable and present in equal measure, and most importantly, blending harmoniously into actual great and strong songs.
That means, the Primal Scream song sounds like Primal Scream AND Jarre, the Pet Shop Boys song feels like Pet Shop Boys AND Jarre… It is simply mind-blowing how Jarre has managed to reach such results.

Pet Shop Boys are layering their style and unmistakeable vocals on the weightless layers of Jarre’s synth magic, and it’s as if it’s always been that way, and it couldn’t sound more natural, and it feels like a classy synth club in downtown London, with long narrow corridors and neon lights.
It’s beautiful, gently emotion-charged.

When it’s Gary numan’s turn to shine, it sounds both 80’s and goth, with hints of heavy 80’s synth – strangely reminiscent of And One -, resulting in a song that wouldn’t have felt out of place on Numan’s mid-90s albums such as Sacrifice or Exile. A very contemplative, mesmerizing track.

The unusual sound fest keeps going, with guests as special and out of this world as Peaches and Sebastien Tellier, and the sound keeps changing radically, while staying the same. Each song feels like a candy with a special, unique flavour and we just can’t wait to discover what the next one will taste like.

The one thing that makes this album even more special than it already is, is the political statement made by Jean-Michel Jarre by collaborating with Edward Snowden on “Exit”. Yes, you read that correctly.
Jarre has indeed given a musical window of expression to hero/dissident/activist Edward Snowden, on a fast, aggressive electronic track relying on heavy synth sounds, sirens and galloping beats. While the track is mainly instrumental, a break halfway through provides enough room for Snowden’s spoken word section. It is deadly, uplifting and sounds like revolution.

“And if you don’t stand up for it, then who will?”

The very difference between Electronica Part 1 and 2, is that Part 1 was a more regular album, made of 16 very strong songs, all pretty much equally good and catchy.
While it is not as continuously flamboyant and uplifting as Electronica 1: The Time Machine, Electronica 2 does possess fewer, yet deeper, more intense and meaningful songs. Tracks like “Exit” in collaboration with Snowden, “Why This, Why That and Why” with Yello, and also “Walking the Mile” with Christophe strike a different, more emotional string; different colours, less uplifting, often darker. All around, what has the potential to become a memorable album.

Killer songs:
Brick England (with Pet Shop Boys)
Exit (with Edward Snowden)
What You Want (with Peaches)
Why This, Why That, and Why (with Yello)
Walking the Mile (with Christophe)

Review by Marie Lando.