18 April 2010

Revolutions - Jean Michel Jarre

Revolutions is Jean Michel Jarre's eighth studio album, released in 1988. As with many of Jarre's albums, it is themed, and in this case the varying revolutions taking place around the world inspire the album. Not simply the obvious theme of violent political turmoil, but also the industrial or computer revolution; at the time this album was produced, computers were becoming an increasing part of everyday life, and such change came with the usual bundle of nameless terror and apprehension with which humanity greets most change.

The album uses a variety of genres to reflect the themes. The first four tracks - Industrial Revolution overture and parts one to three - feature a kind of orchestral-industrial sound, a mixture of stylised factory sounds, heavy synthetic strings and choir. Two tracks, London Kid and Tokyo Kid are heavy-handed tone poems representing the differences between two different lives. Hank Marvin features strongly on London Kid, and Jun Miyake plays trumpet extremely bizarrely on Tokyo Kid, over the top of an equally peculiar, distorted jazz beat.

Dulcie September is paid tribute to in the song September. Dulcie, if you're unaware, was assassinated in 1988, a member of the South African ANC. Choirs of children and a synthesized steel drum sound form a backdrop for strong female vocalisations.

A word about the Roland D-50. Rather new at the time, Jarre took a liking to the preset sounds and basically used them as is. If you can get your hands on a D-50, you'll find even the distinctive rhythm track on Industrial Revolutions Overture is a preset. Hunt around for 'Machine Run', 'Griitarrr 2', 'Motor Orchestra' and 'Kokubo Strings' and hold your own little Jarre concert. Michael Jackson also seemed taken with the D-50, as showcased on 'Bad', and the pizzicato strings from the D-50 are very prominent on Enya's 'Orinoco Flow' - 'Pizzagogo' is the preset to go-go for, I believe.


01 Industrial Revolution Overture (5:11)
02 Industrial Revolution Part 1 (5:10)
03 Industrial Revolution Part 2 (2:17)
04 Industrial Revolution Part 3 (4:13)
05 London Kid (4:28)
06 Revolutions (4:56)
07 Tokyo Kid (5:23)
08 Computer Weekend (4:43)
09 September (4:06)
10 The Emigrant (3:57)

1 comment:

  1. Haven't heard this album in its complete form for almost twenty years. Still have a fondness for 'Computer Weekend' though.