Jean-Michel Jarre’s latest project is a trip to the Amazon rainforest


By AGENCY

With Amazonia, electro-pop pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre has delivered another experiment. The album is the soundtrack to the exhibition of the same name by the world-famous photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Expect a journey through the jungle.

Shamanic chants, the crackling of fire, the long screech of a bird and synthesiser tones in between: Jarre’s latest album Amazonia is an attempt to capture the atmosphere of the world’s largest rainforest.

“I approached the Amazon with respect, in a poetic and impressionistic way, ” the pioneer of electronic music said ahead of the release of the album, which he composed as a soundtrack for an exhibition by Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado.

With Amazonia, the French composer has managed to immerse himself in the depths of the rainforest by combining electronic and orchestral instruments with authentic jungle sounds.

The interplay of many synthesisers, one of Jarre’s trademarks, is interspersed with elements of an entire habitat: fire, water and wind, animal sounds, spiritual chants and music of ethnic groups.

The album captures the soundscape of an ecosystem without slipping into ethnic music.

Timbre of natural sounds

“I conceived a sort of toolbox containing musical elements – orchestral and electronic – intended to recreate or evoke the timbre of natural sounds, to which I added sounds from the environment, and finally ethnic sources (voices, songs and instruments) from the sound archives of the Ethnography Museum of Geneva (MEG), ” said Jarre.

'It was necessary to go back to the principles of orchestration of the sounds of nature, to work from sounds which follow one another randomly, but which can compose a harmony or a dissonance, ' says Jarre. Photo: AFP'It was necessary to go back to the principles of orchestration of the sounds of nature, to work from sounds which follow one another randomly, but which can compose a harmony or a dissonance, ' says Jarre. Photo: AFP

The 52-minute score is full of a dense atmosphere, which not only creates a musical image of the Amazon rainforest but manifold visual images of a region that is considered a gem of world nature. “It seemed interesting to me to fantasise the forest, ” the composer explained.

Amazonia is a great alternative for those not able to visit Salgado’s unique exhibition, which comprises the results of six years during which the photographer and environmental activist roamed the Amazon, taking pictures of the forest, its rivers, mountains and inhabitants. Many of the images will be shown in public for the first time.

The exhibit includes about 200 pictures that are to be first on display in the Paris Philharmonic Hall from May 20, followed by an international tour from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to London and Rome.

Time to reflect

With his black-and-white pictures, the award-winning Salgado encourages the viewer to reflect on the future of biodiversity and the place of humans in the world.

Amazonia is the latest piece in Jarre’s series of experiments.

“It was necessary to go back to the principles of orchestration of the sounds of nature, to work from sounds which follow one another randomly, but which can compose a harmony or a dissonance, ” the artist described his creative process.

Only a few months ago, the electronic music composer surprised his fans with a number of virtual concerts, last on Dec 31 when he performed as an avatar at a virtual reconstruction of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral.

The event, which was streamed live online, was watched by over 75 million people, according to Sony Music.

Jarre became famous for his 1976 album Oxygene which revolutionised the music world. The instrumental album, which he recorded in an improvised home studio, was sold a million times worldwide.

Oxygene was followed by Equinoxe and Magnetic Fields, which also sold millions of copies.

On Zoolook, his eighth album released in 1984, Jarre experimented with scraps of speech for the first time, which he warped and processed into sound collages. – dpa

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