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Jarre, the son of film composer Maurice Jarre, had already cemented his reputation as a seminal electronic/new age figure with the late-1970s albums Oxygene and Equinoxe. But 1984's Zoolook was a more urbane effort, fleshing out tape-looped voices with gurgling, washy synthesizers and on-the-money live players, notably Zappa/Talking Heads guitarist Adrian Belew and Miles Davis bassist Marcus Miller. Less cosmic pretense and more information-age irony, Zoolook, with bizarre titles like "Wooloomooloo" and "Zoolookologie" had as much to do with media-manipulators like Laurie Anderson-who also makes a cameo-as proto-ambientists like Robert Rich or Brian Eno, with whom Jarre is usually bracketed. --James Rotondi
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On its release it was so different from other JMJ releases such as the timeless Oxygene and Equinox that even fans were divided on this one.
The intervening years have actually done a service to the album as it sounds so fresh and relevant today.It could almost be a new release it is that far ahead of its time.
I myself dismissed this album on release but now find it to be one of his best works,certainly on a par with the 2 above mentioned albums.
If you are new to this record,be patient,give a few listens,preferably at night,with headphones on,and listen to the nuances of the music,repeat.i repeat listens will reward you in time.A phenomenal album.
I prefer the 97 24 bit remaster to the newer one(just my humble opinion).
My personal fave list
1.Equinox 2.Zoolook 3.Oxygene 4.Magnetic Fields 5.Rendevous/Revolutions.
"Ethnicolour" is vast and epic, whilst pop tunes like "Zoolookologie" are full of zing.
Jarre seemed to retreat to simpler structures for his subsequent albums, but I wouldn't say Zoolook was left as a white elephant by any means (if you'll pardon the pun...)
From the first chord, you just can't stop listening. Ethnicolor, with all those transformed voice samples, is mesmerising. Vocal sounds dominate much of this album, giving it a 'human' feel which kind of juxtaposes the extreme electonicness of it all. The foreign voices give Zoolook a strong world-music flavour, and really add an extra dimension to the album.
More than any other JMJ album, the sounds of this one are ravishing, just sheer physical beauty. But he doesn't just do beauty: JMJ uses it to draw you into his magic cave, his fantasy world. It's an inviting place to visit.
If you're into complexity, the layering techniques used throughout this album make for a soundscape that's pretty satisfying. There's always more than one thing going on at any time. Me like.
From this distance in time, I could probably have done without the contribution of Laurie Anderson's vocals. But then, in the 80s, people thought she was pretty cool. Now she is probably the weakest link in the album.
The whole thing strikes me as a kind of rhapsody of joyful sound. What more could you ask from JMJ?
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