Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene 3

by Gerry Hathaway Rating:7 Release Date:2016-12-02

The Jean Michel Jarre of 2016 is an electronic artist with few contemporaries left. After the passing of kindred sonic explorer Edgar Froese (founder of the legendary Tangerine Dream) in 2015, Jarre tapped his protégés for a (mostly) satisfying two-album collaborative experiment (Electronica 1 & 2). Spanning four decades of artists and even more genres of electronic music, it was an unsurprising mixed bag bearing little of Jarre’s own trademarks. To even his most faithful fans, Jarre is an artist whose best work is considered to be far behind him.

Perhaps, that’s why the late-year announcement of 2016’s Oxygene 3 (arriving exactly 40 years after the nascent classic) is all the more shocking. Touted as the third and final album in what is now considered the Oxygene Trilogy, it begs the question of whether or not the new Oxygene suite lives up to the vigor of his finest record, or collapses into a moribund mess.

Oxygene 3 is easily Jarre’s best work since Oxygene 7-13 in 1997. There are obvious traits of the original Oxygene to be found, lending credence to the validity that this is indeed a continuation of a previous work. The classic whooshing wind effects, knocking claves, and fluttering electronic tweets are scattered throughout the record, as are the phasher-drenched synth strings.

Part 17 is the most characteristic single-worthy track on the record. Uplifting, melodious, and soaring – it’s classic Jarre through and through. Part 16 follows a similar retro path and has the most prominent beat in the entire record. Album closer Part 20 is a deeply moving emotional piece replete with dense strings, organ, and thunderous rolls.

However, the remaining musical elements feel much more like modern modular synth tinkering due to obvious angular properties that distinctly differentiate Oxygene 3 from its predecessors. When removed from its context as the final part of a trilogy, this is perfectly fine. However, if Jarre’s wish was to unify each record thematically, then the frequent stylistic departures of Oxygene 3 will likely be a bone of contention for fans asking for more of the same.

Ultimately, Oxygene 3 functions quite well as the competent exercise in shimmery meditative electronic that it is. While it might have been better served under a different visage and album name than tacked onto the previous two Oxygene installments, it still stands as an alluring reminder of why Jean Michel Jarre remains peerless in this genre.

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