New Jean-Michel Jarre Album, Oxymore, Inspired By Pierre Henry & Musique Concrète

French synthesist Jean-Michel Jarre has announced a new album, Oxymore, that is inspired by French electronic music pioneer Pierre Henry.

Jarre calls Oxymore his most ambitious project to date. It’s described as “an extremely conceptual work, dedicated to late French composer Pierre Henry.”

Henry (1927 – 2017) is best known as a pioneer of musique concrète – electronic music that’s based on the tangible manipulation of sampled sound. In the 1940’s, Henry – along with French composer Pierre Schaeffer – created a style of music, built on the physical manipulation of sounds on tape.

“I believe that the tape recorder is the best instrument for the composer who really wants to create by ear for the ear,” explained Henry.

Jarre and Henry had plans for a collaboration for Jarre’s album Electronica, but Henry died before it was completed. After Henry’s death, his widow gave Jarre the stems of material that had been prepared for this collaboration. Jarre used this material as the foundation of Oxymore.

Oxymore is described as “a musical journey, where Pierre Henry’s sounds interact with Jarre’s, in an elegant dance between digital and analogue sounds, inspired by the French movement ‘musique concrete’.”

The album has been conceived as an immersive work, in a multi-channel and 3D binaural version. Here’s the first single from the album, Brutalism:

Oxymore is scheduled for release Oct 21, 2022.

20 thoughts on “New Jean-Michel Jarre Album, Oxymore, Inspired By Pierre Henry & Musique Concrète

  1. And I thought Zoolook was pretty much the worst he could possibly do. I don’t know, but I find this repugnant on so many levels.

    1. @John Ross

      Repugnant is things as murder, governmental policies not helping the homeless, varoous billionaires not doing anything to alleviate suffering of billions of people in poverty.

      To say a piece of music is “repugnant” to you is just …..

      1. No, Rossi’s right. This is repugnant, like rotted food in the waste bin. Ex: these unenjoyable sounds are incompatible with a good listening experience. I have a strong aversion to such unpleasant and gimmicky noises. This offering from Jarre is about as fresh and palatable as a 1990s AOL cd-rom.

        Definition of repugnant
        2 archaic : HOSTILE
        3: exciting distaste or aversion

        1. Anyone that suggests that electronic music that features ‘unpleasant noises’ is ‘repugnant’ knowns literally nothing about the history of electronic music.

          You may want to stick to easy listening and smooth jazz, if that’s the way that you feel.

    2. Now, Zoolook was an amazing concept, exploiting the then new sampling technology. Synthesizer history cannot be complete without the Emulator, many musicians have used it in the 1980s. People with no background knowledge speak rubbish and some even take their word for it…

  2. I appreciate the homage. Having even just a handful of Henry’s stems makes the project feel right. I also know that people who have demanded “Oxygene” retreads from him for years probably won’t like this direction much at all.

    I’m going to give it more than one track to make its case. I’m not sure the typical listener will warm up to a sudden avant-garde BLORP! when they were looking for string pads, but I have weird ears, so I might. I enjoyed “Zoolook” as a Fairlight demo on steroids.

  3. If one is interested in the use of environmental sounds as material for electronic music, I suggest to listen to “Foley Room” by Amon Tobin.

  4. It’s quite tribal…also like Art of Noise techno..I like the fact he’s making it more danceable….a bit more commercial…’s quite a mish mash and dark…..but dubsteppy…..with his VR I think he is quite cutting edge in his 70s

    1. I think you are spot on Mike. This was different than I was expecting with the mention of musique concrete. It reminded me a bit of work that Reznor and Cortini did with NIN. I wouldn’t have guessed this was Jarre, so good on him for expanding outside what I am guessing is his usual comfort zone.

  5. I just listened to the binaural mix version of this album. This was a very different experience from the normal stereo mix. I have a feeling that you need a 5.1 setup to get the most out of this album. However, the binaural version is a pretty good compromise. As far as I can understand, Jarre was not trying to follow traditional harmonic structures or song structures with this music. Rather, he is exploring how sounds can transport you into some sort of ‘Sonic Landscape’. Indeed, one of the songs is actually called ‘Sonic Land’. I can understand that this is probably not what most people looking for, but that is Jean’s prerogative. Rather than looking to enjoy these tracks as traditional songs, it may be better to think of them as the sound track to a film of your own imagination. To my mind, this paints a picture of a world run entirely by an advanced Artificial Intelligence. A hellishly hard and unrelenting industrial world where one is only ever cold and naked. A world where all choices have been removed. The only respite one can find in this world, is through participation in the tribal worship of the singularity (an artificial religion created by the AI to manipulate humanity – the useful idiots). There is little comfort or beauty to be found here. However, this is what has always attracted me to Jarre’s music. His ability to transport me to some alien place or emotion previously unimagined. Whether you are willing to let this album guide you somewhere is entirely up to you.

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