Allow me to introduce myself. I've been a Jarre fan since the Destination Docklands concerts in London, after the Revolutions album. back then, I tended to like his later works better than the early works with analogue equipment, until Oxygene 7-13 was released. That album made me rediscover his earlier work, and I started to appreciate his first few albums like Oxygene and Equinoxe more. Also, I'd like to point out that I'm by no means an audiophile, I listen to music on average equipment. Perhaps this allows you to relate to this review.
Back to the music. I ordered this new album together with the 2D dvd, as I don't want to mess with 3D-glasses and such. I received the discs at work, and listened to the cd on the trip home (which, as an extreme example of coincidence, took exactly as long as the cd, to the second).
During the first and subsequent listening sessions, I couldn't help but wonder who Jarre had in mind while making this cd. It sounds very much, and I do mean very much, like the original cd. Most instruments sound the same, some bass sounds are a little deeper, some others are not. All the little extra noises which I can't describe in words, and all the sounds like the seagull/seashore-sounds in part 6, are all there in the same places as the original. Compared to the original cd, I couldn't notice many differences. Some instruments sound a little different, of course... But not much. On the contrary, there are a few noises that I'm sure are not intended, such as a soft hissing sound that comes on and off several times during part 1, which I'm sure should not have been part of the music. I'm sure that true audiophiles can hear and maybe appreciate the subtle differences, but I can't, and I can't find a reason to fork out the money for this release if you already own the original cd. Maybe Jarre tried too hard to improve the sound of the original recording... Then again, and I like to say this to myself, maybe the original was already so good that it didn't need improving.
So again I wonder who this cd is made for, and I can't find an answer. Old-time fans such as myself know the original cd by heart and might not need this re-recording which sounds almost 100% the same. Newcomers might not like this 30-year old score with even older equipment, we all know it's not suitable for everyone and it takes getting used to.
Then, last night, I fired up the dvd, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The main feature is the "Live in your living room" performance of Oxygene, in which Jarre (together with Dominique Perrier, Francis Rimbert and Claude Samard, names who will sound familiar to Jarre's fans) plays the entire Oxygene score on the actual analogue equipment, decorated with 70's-style lamps and a beamer projecting surrealistic images against a screen. The six parts of Oxygene are broken up by a prelude and several variations, adding a few minutes to the score.
The good part is that this sounds different enough from the studio recording to warrant the buying of this album alone. The performance is different, almost a little unpredictable (especially if you, like me, know the original by heart), yet familiar because of the old instruments and their unique sound. It sounds a little improvised at times, perhaps because Jarre only has so many instruments and 4 pairs of hands at his disposal for this performance, without being able to rely on studio techniques such as dubbing over previous recordings or even the luxury of having memory presets on these synthesizers, as he explains in an included making-of feature. The variations also break up the well-known parts nicely.
Further extra's on the dvd include the entire Oxygene studio-recording (as on the cd) recorded in 5.1, and a tour of the instruments used in the performance. I haven't listened to the 5.1 mix yet, so I won't say anything about that. The two small documentaries are nice to watch once or twice, to get a feeling of the old equipement Jarre used. It really made me appreciate the analogue equipment even more, and it shows how inventive the performer has to be, as the synths of yesteryear aren't as feature-packed as today.
So, to cut a long story short... The cd, I could do without, because altough good, it sounds the same as the original. 3 stars. The dvd, however, should have been the main feature and selling point of this release. It is what I'll be playing most in the near future. 5 stars.
Needless to say, I can't recommend the cd-only version of the album. Get the 3D version if you are a fan of fancy 3D-effects and don't mind hassling with 3D-glasses. Otherwise, get the 2D version and find a way to transfer the live dvd performance to a cd.
Lastly, I can only hope Jarre will give the same treatment to his other analogue works such as Equinoxe and Magnetic Fields.