JeanMichel Jarre's Odd Techno Shocker And Alice Coltrane Disciple Surya Botofasina's Meditations

Jean-Michel Jarre, "Brutalism" (Sony Germany)

French composer/synthesizer Jean-Michel Jarre's best-known and best-selling works, such as 1976's Oxygène and 1978's quinoxe , tinker with bombastic melodies, female-female notes, and crushing rhythms – they're pretty much the same as the soundtrack to the Hollywood film Place. While purely instrumental, these albums sold millions of copies during the 1970s, perhaps helped by the success of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" radio and the growing popularity of the club, which created mainstream acceptance of synthesizer-based music.

But as thoughtful and well-crafted as Jarre's finest work, there's always something light and sweet about it. "Oxygen (Section V)" is an exception; this track really makes the rocket engines roar, especially in the second half. The 1988 Revolutions LP had a few odd moments, but overall it reverted to Jarre's penchant for over-the-top big-budget rumble. More recently, 2021's Amazonia ventured into the ethnodelic sound landscape by using forest sounds to complement environmental compositions on the big screen.

For most of the electronic music legends in their later years, for example Vangelis (RIP) and Giorgio Moroder, we expect creative power to diminish. Honestly, this applies to musicians of all genres. So it's a bit surprising that Jarre's 22nd album Oxymore (released on October 21) turned out to be heavier and more whimsical than expected. The press release reveals that it is "described as an immersive piece in multi-channel, binaural 3D rendering," which may partly explain the jarring 360-degree nature of the music.

The title track features powerful guitar hits, scary abstract electronics, and the funniest beats JMJ has ever made. Sounds more like an Orb in a tougher form than anything Jarre has done in his 50-year recording career. The shocking psychedelic technology of "Neon Lips" is far stranger than anything you might imagine from a 74-year-old multi-millionaire songwriter. And so is for much of Oxymore, including the title track "Brutalism".

It's funny that Sony Music thought that an uncompromising song like "Brutalism" would make a solid debut single, but the decision probably speaks to the weight that someone as legendary as Jarre carries. In it, the rugged drone synthesizes a tense and breezy techno vision reminiscent of the eccentric Swiss electro who infected Yello with bug rave and picked up some oily acid before entering the studio. Kudos to the labels and artists who have endorsed and created bold and catchy songs from platinum icons that have been played to millions of shows worldwide. Old Jean-Michel didn't play it safe.

Surya Botofasina, "Surya Meditation (with Swamini Satsang)" (Spiritmuse Notes)

A gentle soul with deep meditative powers, New York keyboardist/songwriter Surya Botofasina grew up in late jazz/new age legend Alice Coltrane's Sai Anantam Ashram, and it shows. His new album, Everyone's Children (out November 4), produced by Carlos Niño, lies luxuriously at the intersection of softer spiritual jazz and quieter New Age.

The nine songs run for 100 minutes and offer a lot of blissful beauty. Pianos, synthesizer strings, vibrations, bells, songs and voices, and devotional pronunciations (by Mia Doi Todd, Radha Botofasina, and Swamini Satsang) dominate the sound field, with every detail lovingly placed for optimal serenity.

As someone who has been actively involved in chillout music in its various forms for several years, I find Everyone's Children to be a particularly relaxing example. It sounds like it's still necessary to achieve some semblance of sanity, but in 2022 that need is more pressing than ever. The calm atmosphere of this album was exactly what the teacher had ordered. Children Everyone contrasts with the dominant culture of instant gratitude, short attention spans and endless scrolling that plague modern life. Botofasina, who also starred in Boardwalk Empire and vinyl , invites you to close your eyes, sit in a comfortable position and open your ears and heart as wide as possible to let his crystal poetry soothe your worries.

The 10-minute excerpt from "Solar Meditation" (another version on this album is almost three times longer) begins with Swamini Satsang declaring with conviction, "Every day should be meditative," while being resonant and grounded and featuring beautiful views. Vibration patterns produce your chakras vibrating in perfect harmony. At one point Satsang exclaimed, "The world will be blessed!" and while it would be nice to think so, a quick scan of Google News belies that optimism. However, Surya creates a reassuring illusion that all is well, at least as long as the music flows through your senses.