I picked up a copy of Jean Michele Jarre’s Oxygene: Live In Your Living Room DVD recently and it’s a must-have for fans of classic synth music.
The package captures a 30th-anniversary live multimedia performance of Oxygene, and features a 5.1 DVD of the performance, a 3D video version of the performance, the new version of Oxygene on CD, 3D glasses and lots of extras. It’s nicely produced and packaged and a great deal for what it costs.
The video is fairly straightforward. Jarre and several other electronic musicians play a massive collection of classic synths, set up in a bare warehouse-like room. The focus is on the gear and the performers, not on fancy lighting or visuals.
Behind the performers, there’s a screen that displays old-school computer graphics. The graphics are far from cutting edge – but they work well with the music, which is classic 70’s synth spaciness. It’s not obvious from the standard version of the video, but the graphics are 3D.
They graphics themselves are available on a second version of the performance on the DVD. This features the 3D graphics presented full-screen with the live version of Oxygene. You have to wear a pair of cardboard 3D glasses to watch it. It’s a cheesy gimmick, but it’s still fun.
Finally, the DVD also offers a 3D version version of the live performance. I found this to be the least interesting version of the performance – but some may like the full-immersion effect.
The inclusion of three different versions of the video is great, because it significantly expands the potential for repeat viewing.
The performance itself is fascinating. There are no pyrotechnic performances, because the music isn’t virtuosic in any traditional sense. But the video is filled with long, intimate shots of the performers playing an amazing variety of synths. This reveals a variety of ways that Jarre manipulates the controls of the synthesizers to add expressiveness to his performances.
The performance is also interesting from a gear perspective; it features dozens of classic modular Moog and Arp synthesizers, theremin, Doepfer ribbon control, EMS synths, Mellotron, early sequencers, string synths and even a few current Moogs.
Musically, the performance stays very close to the original. At times, it’s indistinguishable from the original, while other times it sounds like a very faithful version.
One difference is that Jarre expands the work with some introductions and variations. None of the additions are jarring, though. They expand the piece to flesh out the DVD nicely.
Jarre makes good use of 5.1 space, with some interesting spatial effects that are completely in keeping with the spirit of the original.
In addition to the various versions of the performances, there are some fun extras on the DVD, including gear shots, a making of video and a tour of the gear, with Jarre as your guide.
The only disappointment for me was that the CD of the performance disposes with the 30th anniversary additions, instead matching the original performance. I would have preferred a version that included the full performance, instead of one that matches the original CD so closely.
All in all, it’s a 70’s synth music geekfest. I thought that the video might be cheesy – but it actually ended up giving me a greater appreciation for Jarre’s style of music and what he achieved with the gear of the day.
1. Prelude [Dolby Digital 5.1]
2. Oxygene, Pt. 1 [Dolby Digital 5.1]
3. Oxygene, Pt. 2 [Dolby Digital 5.1]
4. Oxygene, Pt. 3 [Dolby Digital 5.1]
5. Variation I [Dolby Digital 5.1]
6. Oxygene, Pt. 4 [Dolby Digital 5.1]
7. Variation II [Dolby Digital 5.1]
8. Oxygene, Pt. 5 [Dolby Digital 5.1]
9. Variation III [Dolby Digital 5.1]
10. Oxygene, Pt. 6 [Dolby Digital 5.1]
1. [CD-Rom Track]