Jean Michel Jarre seems to be a man on a mission. Since releasing his collaborative album Electronica Vol.1 last year he has been around the world touring, finishing off Electronica Vol.2 and also recording his follow up to the legendary Oxygene with Oxygene 3 coming in just a couple of days time (I'll be reviewing it here).
I've spoken about Electronica Vol.1 before and how there were a few great tunes which I really liked, some that were okay and a couple that I skipped as I didn't like them and this is pretty much in the same vein. The album starts off brilliantly with the atmospheric orchetral The Heart of Noise Part 1 getting you into the ambient mood, then the follow up track The Heart of Noise Part 2 gets more aggressively dance-y and adds a bit more oomph with some heavy base beats and sinuous saxophone weaving its magic through the track.
Brick England is a track created in collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys and their signature sound comes through more than Jarre's but the combination works well and is pure early 90's electro-synth pop bliss.
As One is an effective track with hints of Ethnicolour vol.1 from Zoolook initially but then the bleeps and bloops come in and the backing chorus from Primal Screams Come Together comes in, which itself borrows the chorus from Kaasua Komisaario Peppone by Popeda. The song is good but does sound more like a remix than a collaboration between Jarre and Bobby Gillespie et al.
Here For You features Gary Numan and is quintessentially Numan, his voice suits the electronic sound well but there are not many of Jarre's signature arpeggios in this piece.
Hans Zimmer working with Jarre seems like a match made in heaven and indeed listening to the track it is. Jarre has some signature Oxygene whooshes which blend in with Zimmer's sweeping epic score. It all adds to a dramatic electronic operatic piece which you could imagine being part of a score to a sci-fi film.
Circus, a piece created with Siriusmo, sounds very offbeat 90's electro and is reminiscent of Daft Punk, whilst Swipe to the Right, featuring the irrepressible Cyndi Lauper is definitely a nostalgic hit of late 80s fun infectious pop with wonderful Lauper's distinctive vocals sweeping over the top. Her raspy sound complements Jarre's instrumentation wonderfully and the chorus is catchy as heck!
Overall Electronica Vol. 2 is a triumph, a more consistent album than the first. I found the tracks flowed better with the exception of the Primal Scream, Peaches and Christophe tracks which I felt were a bit awkward in the whole album. They aren't bad songs per se but they didn't suit my auditory palette. However I like the fact that Jarre has put himself out there and worked with such a disparate range of artists. For Jarre purists who are looking for the next Oxygene this is not the album you are looking for but for those willing to trust in Jarre and follow him on a musical odyssey there is much to like and savour.