40 years ago Jean Michel Jarre released his fourth album, Equinoxe, and confirmed his place in music history as a trailblazer of electronic music. The 1978 follow up album to Oxygene further developed the sound and style that made Jarre's music instantly recognisable, reaching its zenith with Equinoxe 4 and 5.
And so, it is with much excitement that Jarre fans have waited for Equinoxe Infinity, a sequel proper with the strange Watchers featuring prominently, silent sentinels over the many decades...
Equinoxe Infinity contains ten brand new tracks (or movements) which closely mirror the progression of the original album, peals of thunder are interspersed with the soundscapes of running water.
The opening track, The Watchers, creates a sense of awe and wonder as it opens with the perfect mix of organic and digital sounds. The sound of flowing water is closely followed by a deep booming bass that is followed by a deep rhythm that seems to be approaching closer, until it gives way to a full on sci-fi soundscape... Almost as if the sentinels have awoken.
Track two, Flying Totems, introduces many of the sounds that Jarre that has become synonymous with. There are echoes of Industrial Revolutions part 2 as the piece flows and ebbs. There is a sense of pure joy and freedom, almost as if one were soaring through the sky. It's hard to describe but the sense of elation I get from this track is indescribable. One of Jarre's best in my opinion.
The third movement, Robots Don't Cry, is a more measured piece. It has a steady, almost metronomic melotron sound. A violin wends it's way through the whole thing that is surrounded by the airy sounds of Oxygene. It's an interesting track and a grower for sure, especially when the piano-like sounds come in near the middle of the piece.
The next two tracks, All The You Leave Behind and If The Wind Could Speak are a little more soundscapey, with watery burbles and splashes punctuated with some treated vocals, reminiscent of Zoolook.
One of the highlight of the album for me is track 6, Infinity. It is nothing short of a masterpiece from Jarre. It could feature in many Balearic clubs and be the sound of the Summer, albeit a Summer ruled by Ace of Base. It's so joyful and playful!
Tracks 7 and 8, Machines Are Learning and The Opening are short but strong tracks. Machines Are Learning features a driving rhythm punctuated with odd beeps, bloops and weird vocals. I like it and it reminds me of his older work but can't quite place my finger in it. The Opening meanwhile has a striking rhythm and aggressive synthy sound which I love.
Don't Look Back is track 9 and is quite unusual, starting with an aggressive cello-ish sound that is slowly built on to become softer but no less urgent.
The final track, Equinoxe Infinity, is a seven minute marvel reprising much of what has occurred on the album but with a tinge of wistfulness. Splashes of water merge with echoes that slowly build into a crescendo and a euphoric wall of sound.
At just under 40 minutes Equinoxe Infinity is a short but wonderful experience. There is always great danger in revisiting your past but here I feel that Jarre has added to the legacy of the origin work, much like with Oxygene 3 but more so here. Equinoxe Infinity is a much more cohesive album that Oxygene 3 and is probably one of my favourite Jarre albums ever. It is a beautiful and at times euphoric experience and what Jarre fan wouldn't want that?
Come one, come all to hear the return of the great master of electronica!