Chart for stowaways – 2 March 2019

Here are the week’s top singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Agenda EP
  2. Ladytron – Horrorscope
  3. The Beloved – It’s Alright Now
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Flying Totems
  5. The Radiophonic Workshop – Arrival Home
  6. Ladytron – Far from Home
  7. Ladytron – The Animals
  8. Gesaffelstein feat. The Weeknd – Lost In The Fire
  9. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  10. Dave Gahan – Saw Something / Deeper and Deeper
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Chart for stowaways – 16 February 2019

Here are the top singles for stowaways this week:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Agenda EP
  2. The Beloved – It’s Alright Now
  3. Ladytron – Horrorscope
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Flying Totems
  5. Ladytron – Far from Home
  6. The Radiophonic Workshop – Arrival Home
  7. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  8. Gesaffelstein feat. The Weeknd – Lost In The Fire
  9. Ladytron – The Animals
  10. David Bowie – Breaking Glass

Chart for stowaways – 2 February 2019

Here’s the latest singles chart:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Flying Totems
  2. Ladytron – Far from Home
  3. The Beloved – It’s Alright Now
  4. The Radiophonic Workshop – Arrival Home
  5. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  6. Gesaffelstein feat. The Weeknd – Lost In The Fire
  7. Ladytron – The Animals
  8. David Bowie – Breaking Glass
  9. Lady Gaga – Judas
  10. The Beloved – The Sun Rising

Chart for stowaways – 19 January 2019

These are the latest singles:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Flying Totems
  2. Ladytron – Far from Home
  3. The Radiophonic Workshop – Arrival Home
  4. The Beloved – It’s Alright Now
  5. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  6. Gesaffelstein feat. Weeknd – Lost In The Fire
  7. Ladytron – The Animals
  8. Lady Gaga – Judas
  9. David Bowie – Breaking Glass
  10. The Beloved – The Sun Rising

Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine

I don’t know, you wait eight years for a new Jean-Michel Jarre album, and then three turn up at once. Sorry, I know that’s an obvious thing to say, but it is amusingly apposite. The fun but definitely questionable Téo & Téa (2007) left a slightly iffy taste in a lot of people’s mouths, and apart from the re-recorded and questionably legal version of Oxygène that followed the same year, there was then an extended silence until 2015.

What he was doing, it turns out, was working with every other electronic musician under the sun to create a two volume album, Electronica. The first opens with the sweet title track The Time Machine, with Boys Noize, and then comes one of the opening singles, Glory, with M83. So far, so pleasant.

Both of these albums have been criticised for being a bit disjointed, which, while not entirely unfair, seems a bit of an odd thing to say – of course they are, they’re effectively compilations of collaborations. But the sequence is generally logical, and there isn’t really anything particularly bad on here, so it’s hard to be too critical.

Fellow French musicians Air turn up next, for Close Your Eyes. Some tracks seem to have a lot more of Jarre, and others have a lot more of his collaborators on them, and in general, this one ends up sounding like Air might if they employed Jarre as a producer. That is to say, pretty good.

The first time you can really call something here “brilliant” is on the two parts of Automatic, both collaborations with Vince Clarke. For Clarke, this sounds a lot like his recent solo and collaborative electronic projects, but Jarre’s influence is clearly audible here too, particularly in Part 2, and both halves of the track really are excellent.

The increasingly great Little Boots turns up next, pretty much the only musician other than Jarre to make the laser harp part of their live show, and their collaboration is If..! (yes, two dots). While it’s certainly true that Jarre did something on this one, it’s difficult to know exactly what, but it’s a great song nonetheless.

They keep coming – Immortals, with Fuck Buttons, is an excellent meeting of minds, and while Suns Have Gone with Moby may not be the high point of either artist’s career, you have to be glad that it happened.

It is undeniably an odd list of collaborators though – which is not to say that Gesaffelstein shouldn’t be here – after all, why not? Few might put him in their top thirty living artists of all time list, but the resulting track Conquistador is pretty good. This isn’t so true of Travelator (Part 2) (there doesn’t appear to be a part 1), with Pete Townshend, which I’m not convinced does the legacy of either great musician any particular favours.

That isn’t true of what is apparently Edgar Froese‘s last recorded work, Zero Gravity, which after so many decades finally brings us the joint credit of Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream, and it’s ever bit as excellent as it should be. It’s also nice to see Jarre revisiting his earlier musical partner Laurie Anderson for the decidedly odd Rely on Me.

Where these two albums both go a little astray for me is with the number of tracks – they’re varied, but after thirteen pieces of music and with no end in sight, you’re always going to be a little weary. Towards the end of the first volume, we get a fun trance excursion with  Armin van BuurenStardust, followed by the weirdly dubby Watching You, with 3D from Massive Attack.

Right at the end, John Carpenter turns up for the appropriately creepy A Question of Blood, and finally pianist Lang Lang accompanies an atmospheric piece on album closer The Train & The River. It’s a long, varied, and complex album, but in general it stands well on its own, and if you consider yourself a fan of any sort of electronic music, you should probably be a fan of this.

You can find part 1 of the Electronica project at all major retailers.

Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul

The second single from Depeche Mode‘s slightly iffy album Delta Machine was the gospel-flavoured Soothe My Soul. An odd single choice from an album which perhaps wasn’t overflowing with options, it still performed respectably in the charts and got a good amount of airplay.

Depeche Mode don’t have the most amazing record with their single versions – they tend to take songs in a slightly different direction, which often seems to miss out everything which made the original good. Soothe My Soul, though, is an exception – I think the single version is actually better than the original. Apart from being shorter, it’s somehow punchier, and more concise, and works rather well. I’m still not convinced it’s the greatest track on the album, but it’s a fair take given the raw materials.

There’s no b-side this time – instead you get Gesaffelstein‘s remix of Goodbye. This is one of those remixes where it’s difficult to know exactly what the point is – it plods along entirely pleasantly, and the drums are at least interesting, but there’s a lot which is just lifted directly from the original, and the ending is particularly anticlimactic.

The remixes on the second disc are largely good, although your enjoyment of them will inevitably depend on how strong you think the lead track is. Personally I’m not entirely convinced, but even so, the majority of the mixes are enjoyable.

First up is Steve Angello and Jaques Lu Cont‘s version, which is a very contemporary mix that you could definitely envisage getting club play. It perhaps drags a little with its seven minute duration, but the slightly grimy bass part is enough to keep you awake if your mind starts to wander at any point.

Next comes Tom Furse, with perhaps the best of all the remixes. This version adds a sultry swing to the track as well as a whole load of synthesizers, making it a lot less grubby sounding than the original, which is no bad thing.

Billy F. Gibbons and Joe Hardy‘s remix seems a little unnecessary – for the most part they seem to have just added a bit of guitar noodling and a couple of vocal effects, and otherwise it’s not hugely different. I suppose there’s something for everyone here, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Then Joris Delacroix turns up with a slightly glam dance version. It works quite well, but it does drag a bit too at nearly seven minutes. Again, maybe if you’re keener on the original than I am, you might enjoy this more. The Black Asteroid remix is duller still – it just contains a lot of daft noises and never really seems to go anywhere.

Finally comes Gregor Tresher‘s Soothed remix, which is every bit as laid back as you might expect from the title. Gone are all the dark electronics and pretty much everything else except the vocal, to be replaced by sweeping pads and gentle chimes. It’s interesting and different, and therefore probably my second favourite version after Tom Furse‘s mix earlier.

So Soothe My Soul was an odd choice for second single, and although pleasant, I’m not sure it has a huge amount going for it. If you’re not a completist, you could probably skip this one and just stick with the album version.

You can find both the physical and download versions of both discs of the single at all major retailers. The first disc is here, and the remix package here.