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Teo And Tea
Teo And Tea

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, addictive, you think you know Jean Michel Jarre, and then he pulls this out of the bag..., 7 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Teo And Tea (Audio CD)
"A group of men and women entered the biosphere one month ago to live in a self-sustained world / Body movements, emotions, and sexual activity are to create the energy to survive" - so states the Dutch-accented commentator on the album's title track.

Having been a life-long fan of Jarre's earliest work, and with my love of Oxygène and Equinoxe rekindled by the awesome experience of seeing Jarre live at Wembley in May, I approached Téo & Téa with equal amounts of trepidation and excitement. With low expectations, but high hopes, I hit play...

First, let me convey my delirious joy at the discovery that, over 30 years on from his first ground-breaking work, Jarre is still in full creative flow. Téo & Téa as an album is a gripping exploration of the boundaries between human and machine - something which Jarre conveys breathtakingly effectively through music, sounds, and sampled words, blurring the lines between his subject matter and his chosen media as only Jarre knows how.

Fresh News is a deliciously optimistic opener, running into the addictive energy of Téo & Téa, a beautiful, sweaty dance groove with the spoken words above explaining this experiment, and also the album's concept. Beautiful Agony has the sighs and moans of a female orgasm running over the top of another delicious hook, which uncannily echoes Black Cherry-era Goldfrapp, and makes me blush and smile all at once. Touch To Remember is the album's masterpiece: waves of emotion-inducing beats and synths are the background to a computerised voice ruminating "I am. You are. Why? Touch to remember" - the feeling that someone is simply triggering a computer's speech buttons in sequence only adds to the intense melancholy nostalgia. Ok, Do It Fast, besides having the coolest name, delivers a filler run of beats and arpeggios. Partners In Crime 1 and 2 are plays on a cute sinister melody, given emotional depth again by the voice on top, this time a woman's entreating "Come to mummy" - seeing an emotional theme through into Chatterbox, which reminds me of Moon Machine, except for my suspicion that Jean Michel has been reading Pinker! In The Mood For You can only be described as schmoozic, but it's too well done to be cheesy, and is just relaxing instead. Gossip sounds like its title, another filler serving more to flesh out the album's story. Vintage shimmers and for a few seconds takes you back to the old stuff, before playfully erupting into more fabulous danceable rhythms and tunes. Melancholic Rodeo is heart-wrenching: like a robotic cowboy dripping diamonds and tears. Finally Téo & Téa 4:00 AM revisits the title track in condensed form with a fatter beat. And makes you want to hit play and start all over again...

Both intimate and alienating, this album perhaps more than any other treats an incredibly human range of subject matters, but always with that overarching sense of the universal which Jarre nails so expertly.

It's exciting to hear a fresh, different sound come out of an artist you trust and revere. Doubly exciting when that fresh new sound is this revelatory. It makes me think (and hope!) he will just keep on uncovering gems with his musical explorations. Téo & Téa may not be quite as revolutionary as Oxygène or Equinoxe, nor may it be easy on the ears of the old guard... but that's why this is a must-listen album. Instead of attempting to recreate what made him famous, Jean Michel Jarre produces something genuinely progressive and challenging, and makes it sounds so damn good!


Twilight
Twilight
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.90

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not seventeen, but, 13 April 2009
This review is from: Twilight (Audio CD)
I have a confession to make: I've been playing this album incessantly since it landed on my doorstep 2 weeks ago. I bought it on the back of Twilight the movie, which for me embodied perfectly everything a young, modern, exciting film should be. I'm a hyper-critical, hyper-cultural 23-year old, and a vampire teen flick could easily not have appealed, however I was floored. The music struck me instantly as a huge part of the film's power to thrill and move, and I bought this soundtrack initially to help tide me over until the DVD release... but it surprised me by standing apart as a brilliant collection of songs, whose enjoyment is enhanced by, but in no way reliant on, the film.

The opening track is one of my favourites - Muse on brilliant form, with Bellamy's soaring vocals sounding super-sexy and tortured over the assault of guitars. Paramore unleash a wonderful angst-ridden performance on Decode, with Hayley Williams's impressive voice putting an intense degree of emotion into the sort of song I wish had been around when I really was a gothy 17-year old. Full Moon has an amazing instant-relax effect on me, and I'm starting to pick out the layers of drum & bass lying unexpectedly beneath the shimmering violins and a cool West Coast lyric & vocal (apparently these guys are English - glorious). Leave Out All The Rest is another stand-out track, its heartbeat pulse taking me back to the Linkin Park stuff I used to love angsting over in the 90s, and makes for particularly obsessive listening. Spotlight provides a frenetic break, and is also addictive. Go All The Way (Into The Twilight) is a weaker moment, possibly only because of the embarrassingly ditzy female rap (which thankfully only lasts a few seconds). Tremble For My Beloved doesn't do much for me either, but is innocuous and pleasant listening. Cue a second serving of Paramore, equally evocative if less penetrative than the first - just love her vocal attack though. The album then takes on a more sultry tone, starting with the delicious spareness of Blue Foundation's draculaic Eyes On Fire. Rob Pattinson would happen to be a superb musician, further proving that in this life, all hands are not dealt equal. Never Think struck me initially as a bit dull, especially as Pattinson's real soul-wrencher, Let Me Sign, is inexplicably left off here. However, the acoustic intimacy is lovely, and the track has grown on me to the point of haunting. The real delight on this album for me though is Iron & Wine's Flightless Bird, American Mouth - at first sounding like a classic oldie, the aggressively quirky lyrics teamed with tissue-paper-soft vocal delivery create a disarmingly strong impression that, like a dream, lasts long after the song and album have wound up. Finally, as though in token of the inextricability of soundtrack from score in this film, Bella's Lullaby closes the album with Carter Burwell's 2min 30s of pure piano joy. I defy any female not to wish this had been written for her. Pure expressive magic.

Perhaps the strongest indication that this album, whilst being an essential accompaniment to the film, can stand on its own two feet: I came to it knowing only Muse and Linkin Park, and I've come away curious about a few other fascinating artists whose music I can't wait to explore. My only gripe is the exclusion of both Let Me Sign, which has been haunting my waking hours since I saw the film, and of the song that plays just before the full end credits, which is also awesome.

You'll love this album if you a) loved Twilight b) are 17 (or 23) c) have or have ever had "the angst" or d) all of the above. But if not, there's a chance you might love it anyway. Purchase and play loudly... and have tissues ready for the last bit.


Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
Price: £10.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the Hype - Pure Comfort Listening, 28 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Fleet Foxes (Audio CD)
Cosy as an open fire. Fresh as a walk in the snow. If The Mamas & The Papas had turned up at that Welsh cottage in '68 for an impromptu with Led Zeppelin, this is what it might have sounded like. If that analogy fires a blank, imagine the sorts of harmonies that make you warm and tingle, add folk lyrics that are both surprising and touching, and mix up with some flawless production. What you get is original, interesting, and understatedly accomplished. From the mesmeric refrain of White Winter Hymnal, through shape-shifting folk and blues in Ragged Wood and Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, to the hooky West Coast melody and haunting lyrics of He Doesn't Know. These are modern songs that sound like old friends.


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