Jean-Michel Jarre, Oxygène

A painful product of its time when monstrous carnivorous synthesizers walked the earth, Oxygène proves that Jarre did not understand the idea of trop d'une bonne chose. (He did learn it a bit later in life; witness the much more enjoyable Magnetic Fields/Les Chants Magnétiques.) Ponderous, meandering and utterly devoid of soul or feeling, Jarre drags the listener by the ear through complex yet meaningless soundscapes he is convinced are textured and subtle but mostly come off as monotonous. The technical construction is admittedly skillful, and the layering is evident, but layers can only amplify; they do not constitute substance. There are moments and flashes of brilliance (especially "V") but they're not generally worth the amount of listening required to find them, and the quasi-single ("IV") only avoids the same drudgery of the rest of the album by being ostensibly danceable, at least if your right leg is slightly longer than your left and you've taken a substantial quantity of Xanax. Yet here I sit, symmetric and sober, trying to find a "there" there, trying to find a musical thread to hold onto to carry me through, as the Moogasaurus that once roamed his studio looms behind me moaning and slavering. (Content: pure instrumental.)