Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Spectacular Nadir

Nobody seems to have liked Jean Michel Jarre’s last album, Téo & Téa. The Guardian didn’t like it.
Though he scored a worldwide hit with 1977's Oxygene, the days when Jean Michel Jarre was mentioned alongside 1970s electronic pioneers have gone. The Frenchman is more often remembered for preposterous live spectaculars ranging from using cities as a "stage" to recording in space. As Jarre's audio-visual productions have grown along with his ego, his musical output has dwindled in quality and quantity, but even so, Téo & Téa represents a spectacular nadir. Mostly rooted in poor 1980s Europop or anonymous soundtrack music, only the title track - with its one-note solos reminiscent of Faithless circa 1995 - is moderately progressive. At 58, the composer can be forgiven for thinking a computerised voice is still where it's at, but not for infantile melodies that mostly sound like a music-shop demonstration room in 1979. New wife Anne Parillaud supplies orgasmic cries to the cheesy Beautiful Agony with an intensity that suggests Jarre still has a talent for something, but creatively he has surely withered.
The Times (of London) definitely didn’t like it:
Three decades after Oxygene, the Gallic son-et-lumiãre knob-twiddler releases a new opus into a market arguably more jaded about technology than ever before and unlikely to get terribly excited by some old roué plugging in his sequencer again and revving up the BPMs for les kids. Sounding like Rick Wakeman collaborating with Faithless, Téo & Téa maxes on cheesy synths and sudden beat explosions, and reminds you how much you hate house music these days. The absolute nadir is Beautiful Agony, which features joyless soft-porn groaning of the type no doubt emitted by a ready-reckoning eastern European as she lies beneath a potbellied billionaire on a Monte Carlo yacht. Classy.
“knob-twiddler … old roué … joyless soft-porn groaning” We get the idea. Music (pop, rock) and sex are intimately and complexly intertwined. The problem with this album is not that it is sex, but that it is bad sex; that it is, specifically, masturbatory, old and insincere. The problem these reviewers have is not with the music; it is with the thought of old people having sex. Or perhaps, at a pinch, the thought of old people having sex like young people. Ugh!—indeed.

Me? Well, I like Jarre a lot; and I quite liked this one too.


Afront said...

I grew up with Oxygene and Equinox, those two albums shaped my musical tastes more than almost any other. I lost my way around the time of Métamorphoses but picked up Aero for its DTS soundaround.

I hadn't listened to Téo & Téa before I read your post: I remember those reviews and was put off at the time. But I'm enjoying it now (listening on Spotify) so thanks!

Mihai (Dark Wolf) said...

I had and still have a very weak spot for Vangelis, but I didn't neglect Jarre either. Although it is long since I didn't listen to his songs, I think it is time to do that again :)