Jean-Michel Jarre‘s late 2018 album Equinoxe Infinity was seen by many fans as a return to form after a decade of lackluster albums. That last part isn’t my view or even the consensus. Jarre’s discography is contentious by design; no divorcing couple fights more viciously than two Jarre fans arguing over which album is the best, where he “lost it” or whether it was ever lost at all.
These running street battles over French avant-garde electronic albums haven’t much impact on demand, though. After Jarre announced a special Record Store Day edition of three pieces from Equinoxe Infinity remixes by Tale of Us, Jonas Rathsman and Perturbator, the record vanished almost immediately, a rumored 1,300 copies gone and few people have been able to find them in the usual channels (aka Record Store Day retailers who bogarted copies for post-RSD online sales. And now I’m surely going to get an email about from RSD corporate insisting this never happens, they have safeguards, it’s just excess stock of an album nobody could find anywhere, etc.)
But even black market sales are hard to come by. I finally came across a copy in June myself and now I see why, or hear why. This is a fantastic EP, one of the treatments of Jarre’s music that reflects back the many sides of Jarre himself and which, therefore, is just as contentious as any fight among Jarre listeners over the composer’s original works.
Not so much a sequel, Equinoxe Infinity was a reference, both in title and cover artwork (which is one of the best album covers I’ve ever seen) to Equinoxe, Jarre’s 1978 album and probably his most popular studio album after Oxygene. I’ve found that many of the forward-thinking electronic music producers I know (and certainly the ones who come from a classic musician’s background) keep tabs on everything Jarre does. It’s been one of my pet theories that this album, Equinoxe Infinity, is partially responsible for some of these underground types digging out their old trance records and tropes from a more tribal era and giving them a facelift, in the way Jarre himself frequently does to his releases. Or maybe it’s simpler than that: Jarre is the father of more electronic music than he probably cares to claim paternity for, and a “return to form” was bound to reflect on his original albums which have driven electronic music’s ubiquity in film, in video games and in the background of 21st century daily life.
The selection of artists on Equinoxe Infinity Remixed seems almost like it was chosen to pick a fight. No one I’ve spoken to about this album cares for all three mixes. They all seem to love one, like another and outright hate a third – they just disagree about which ones they like, love and hate. After repeated listening I’ve fallen into exactly the same matrix. “If The Wind Could Speak” is remixed by Tale Of Us; and I like it to the point of infatuation. I think it’s hands-down the best production they’ve ever been involved with. It’s a peculiar choice: the original composition is less than two minutes long and more of an interlude than a track that can be listened to without context. But Tale Of Us seem to channel the ambiance of the entire, epic Equinoxe Infinity album into this one six minute mix. Fans of DJ-driven electronic music will probably like this one most of all.
A close second is “All That You Leave Behind.” Perturbator’s remix draws upon the Carpenteresque gloom of the original and polishes it up with a satanic gleam and a blurry electro-clash delirium.
And a third remix, by Jonas Rathsman, I just don’t get at all. I don’t hate it, but in comparison to the insane grandeur of the two previous mixes, it just feels staid. I also suspect that if I heard this in any other context I might feel quite differently.
All in all, this contains two of the best remixes of Jarre that have been done in a very long time, from one of his best albums in a very long time, even if you don’t agree on which two we’re talking about. It’s essential, which when you’re speaking about the discography of Jarre, speaks volumes.
Jean-Michel Jarre: Equinoxe Infinity Remixes / Astralwerks/Columbia
1. Jean-Michel Jarre: If The Wind Could Speak (Tale Of Us Remix) (6:30)
2. Jean-Michel Jarre: Don’t Look Back (Jonas Rathsman Remix) (8:18)
3. Jean-Michel Jarre: All That You Leave Behind (Perturbator Remix) (5:25)