Electronic Music - inspired by Jean Michel Jarre

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Ava Felsenstein

HYDROLUX - Electronic Music inspired by Jean Michel Jarre

Spherical music, close to the style of the albums OXYGENE and EQUINOXE by Jean Michel Jarre


German Electronic Music - without 'fat' bass drum and wild hi-hat orgies? Synth Music like from the seventies? Electronic relaxation music? Is that possible? Does anyone listen to that?

Sure!

Far from the mainstream exists - alongside classic, folk, the slightly harder to digest experimental music and other niches - still the genre of Electronic Music. The big ones e.g. Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream have shown us how to reach the audience. Millions of others tried more or less successfully to walk in their footsteps, and even today this genre still exists. Even if they have a - looking at the commercial aspect - rather decent existence, compared with the short lifetime of today's radio music. Electronica is still an essential part of the creative musical landscape we can't afford to miss.

Younger generations understand Electronic Music as being mainly Dance, House, Electro, etc. - anything that is commonly grouped under the name Techno. Some less, others more justified. In Germany it has started with names like Edgar Froese, Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, just to name a few. Internationally, for example, Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield - to name again just some of the most famous representatives of the genre - entered the pop charts with surprisingly fresh 'Synth Music' or 'Electronic Music', as it is commonly known.

As for me, I was mainly fascinated with the floating, spherical sounds the Frenchman, Jarre made popular with his albums in the mid 70s. These partially melancholic, partially cocky song-like compositions, were made up of completely unfamiliar "strange sounds" of that time, when Electronic Music was in its infancy. These sounds were appearing from large cupboard-like devices full of tubes and transistor-circuits. Almost overnight they became - a CULT! Of course, as a young enthusiastic technology-hobbyist with an affection for musical instruments you are dreaming of "emulating" your idol.

That the own musical creations, using 'drum machines' from some wild wired TTL-technology as well as DIY-synthesizers made of remnants of electronics, would not even partially compete with the works of the "the master", is understandable. However, this period of turbulence and change enhanced my understanding of Electronic Music and maybe some time later I would be in the position to make my dream come true...

Again and again, records (yes, that was the norm then!) like Jean Michel Jarre - Musik aus Zeit und Raum, Oxygene and Equinoxe, were played. More and more technology accumulated in the way-too-narrow music room, own concepts and plans for own albums were developed. But only after the turn of the millennium did the opportunity arise for uniting sufficient peace, space and technology to 'discreetly' continue the sonic legacy of Jean Michel Jarre in the context of today's possibilities. Always with a certain wistfulness about that, over the years the Frenchman has moved from his roots, more and more. Such milestones as the 70s albums would never be repeated. Only a few musicians have dared to venture into this kind of sound since. Be it the fear of being denounced as a plagiarist, or because these sounds just do not seem to be demanded. Now and again, a few songs pop up with elements reminiscent of Jarre; impacting on today's 'Electronic Music'. But entire albums in a kind of a Jarresque style can be found very rarely.

Despite the above points which could have potential for conflict for a musician, I've created my own 'continuation' of the spherical sounds á la Jean Michel Jarre - just for me. Not for the 'market' or the 'scene'. In the meantime, after several years of free downloads of the album from the vastness of the Internet, after changing servers and some surprisingly good response to my tribute to Jarre and his glittering, bubbling soundscapes, now HYDROLUX will find its final place. If it's popular and gets good feedback again, in a not so distant future, it may be available as well to download again on disc. CD is definitely for 'good music', for Electronic Music...

Unfortunately the production costs for this step are a little different to just a weekend shopping at Walmart. Therefore the full download, which should help finance this, is not for free anymore. However, 7€ for a full 45-minute album of Synth-Music, outrageously close to the good old works of the Frenchman, is affordable even for a student. Anyone who thinks this is extravagant, would no doubt find an alternative on a pirate site ;) One must move with the times...

About the history of HYDROLUX

Just as Jarre did, amongst other things with the albums Oxygene and Equinoxe, showing a certain kind of journey or contemplation, HYDROLUX also moves through space and through a story. Of course, the individual stages of this new world of sound should only stimulate the listener to experience his own ideas, the music should not pretend to set a plot. Therefore, with only a few well known sounds of nature, coming from real field recordings, a certain direction, a small initial spark is provided. The rest is done by the synthetic sounds: a life form, born of light, who's natural space is the wet element; roaming the widths and depths of the oceans. It passes through bright landscapes covered by marine biodiversity, interacts with the local beings, dares to venture into the dark abyss, is there, part of a self-luminous community. Carried away by storms and currents, continuing its journey and its development cycle. It finds its destiny in time, in a hidden world in the deep.

All this is illustrated by melodies, harmonies, varying electronic sound worlds. Which element represents which event, is mainly left to the listeners themselves to discover or to assign. But even without any background story HYDROLUX should produce beautiful emotions or bring back memories of the heyday of this kind Electronic Music. Whether through speakers or headphones; those who were once fascinated by the covered-with-phaser-pads in the albums of Jean Michel Jarre, will hopefully also experience some nice moments with this album. The smooth panning of the then still partly monophonic synth sounds within the stereo image is also apparent on HYDROLUX. Even when the melodies are only slightly connected to Jarre's, the sounds are not just 1:1 copies and I've put a lot of personal style in the mixture. However I believe it will appeal to some of the 'old fans' of this very special music anyway.

CD reissue - perhaps later this year ...?

About the technology used in this piece of Electronic Music

First of all, you can't 'copy' Jean Michel Jarre!!!


Also the typical sound from that time, with tape saturation and damping of the higher frequency bands - all this is only legitimate requirement of that time, and determines inseparably the typical touch of this musical era. Electronic Music these days can be recorded and produced crystal clear with almost zero noise, hum or crackles. It simply would not be honest, just to want to live up to the original, to artificially add technical deficiencies of that time on recordings. One could, but one shouldn't really do this...

So, I've left HYDROLUX also as it came out of the machines and those were invariably virtual sound modules. Many audio-fetishists confess the 'warmth' of a sound only comes from analog equipment. However, I see this more based on the musical direction itself. A cool intonation can be filtered and heavily packed with warbling phasers, but even then, will not become 'warmer'! So I hope that the 'warmth' in HYDROLUX - as intended - is determined by the harmonies and the 'natural' areas of digital heights retained do not harm the listening experience of audiophile sound connoisseurs too much. May they stand firm until the 45th Minute...



Among others in the production these VSTis / VSTs were used:
  • sfz+ - rgc:audio
  • Taurus - Smartelectronix
  • Stringer - FalkeLab
  • Hades XT - B.Sorrano
  • Artemis - B.Sorrano
  • Minimoog V - Arturia
  • Subduer - Majken Hoglund
  • Ring - Ian Webster
  • Monolisa - Jörgen Arvidsson
  • Daedalus - Jörgen Arvidsson
  • I-Synth - Tolga Gurpinar
  • Synth1 - Daichi
  • Polyblit - Andreas Ersson
  • Xmax - Eric Langou
  • Guru - FXpansion
  • Hahaha CS33Std - Per Thulin
  • Tripp Lead - Fretted Synth
  • U-NO-60 - TAL
  • GTG Kwop - Mikael Sybrandt
  • Ultra Sonic - EVM
  • Kjarhus Audio Classic Bundle
  • Pan-Oh!-Rama - Majken Hoglund

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