Oxygene 1976Oxygène (English: "oxygen") is an album of instrumental electronic music composed, produced, and performed by the French composer Jean Michel Jarre. It was first released in France in December 1976, on Disques Dreyfus with license to Polydor. The album's international release was in summer 1977. Jarre recorded the album in his home using a variety of analog synthesizers and other electronic instruments and effects. It became a bestseller and was highly influential in the development of electronic music. It is Jarre's first mainstream success, and can be seen as his first real artist album. It has been described as the album that "led the synthesizer revolution of the Seventies.
Track listing Written and arranged by Jean Michel Jarre.
"Oxygène (Part I)" -- 7:40
"Oxygène (Part II)" -- 8:08
"Oxygène (Part III)" -- 2:55
"Oxygène (Part IV)" -- 4:14
"Oxygène (Part V)" -- 10:23
"Oxygène (Part VI)" -- 6:20
Prior to 1976, Jarre had dabbled in a number of projects, including an unsuccessful synthesizer music album, advertising jingles and compositions for a ballet. His inspiration for Oxygène came from a painting by the artist Michel Granger that was given to him by his future wife Charlotte Rampling. The painting showed the Earth peeling to reveal a skull and Jarre obtained the artist's permission to use the image for this album.
Jarre composed Oxygène over a period of eight months using a number of analogue synthesizers and an eight-track recorder set up in the kitchen of his apartment. However, he found it difficult to get the record released, not least because it had "No singers, no proper [track] titles, just 'I', 'II', 'III', 'IV', 'V' and 'VI'".
The motif of the track Oxygène IV is a variation on a phrase from Popcorn by Gershon Kingsley, which Jarre himself had previously covered under the pseudonyms of The Popcorn Orchestra and Jamie Jefferson.
He eventually found a publisher, Francis Dreyfus, head of Disques Motors (now Disques Dreyfus). Dreyfus was the husband of one of Jarre's fellow-pupils at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales of Pierre Schaeffer, where Jarre had learned to use synthesizers, including the EMS VCS 3, which was to play a major part in the music of Oxygène. Although Dreyfus was initially skeptical of electronic music, he gambled by pressing a run of 50,000 copies. The album went on to sell 15 million copies.
In 1997, Jarre produced a sequel album called Oxygène 7--13. This refers to the original album as being the first six movements from a larger complete piece of work, despite the time difference between the release of the two albums. It was written in the same style and using some of the same instruments, although the work is much more uptempo. Jarre was clear about not trying to copy the mood or atmosphere from the original album, but using the same work approach to "create a mood later".
In 2007, Jarre produced a new version of the album, recorded live on a stage, but with no audience, for a DVD release that included 3D video. The title of the new DVD CD set is Oxygène: Live in Your Living Room, with the enhanced CD being called Oxygène: New Master Recording. He used the same instruments, but performed the work with three other collaborators (Dominique Perrier, Francis Rimbert and Claude Samard), rather than overdubbing all parts himself.
Jean Michel Jarre -- ARP Synthesizer, EMS Synthi AKS, VCS 3 Synthesizer, RMI Harmonic Synthesizer, Farfisa Professional Organ, Eminent 310U, Mellotron and the Rhythmin' Computer (later revealed to be a Korg Minipops-7 rhythm machine)