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Love Letter To A Record: Brian Canham On Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Brian Canham, Pseudo Echo – Jean-Michel Jarre, ‘Oxygene’(1976)

Back in the seventies, my Dad had this top of the range, state-of-the-art Pioneer Hi-Fi system, complete with turntable, tuner, cassette and even a reel to reel. He would always have the spool loaded on the reel to reel, ready to go. That is, so he could hit the record button anytime he heard music he liked playing on the radio.

He would then listen to it, reference it, and go buy the album. But that would only be for the really good ones.

Dad mainly listened to jazz, but one day I was out in the backyard when he called me in to listen to something quite different. I was so intrigued. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before, somehow soothing, yet exciting. It reminded me of old science fiction films. I noticed that Dad had hit the record button on the reel to reel. The song went for ages, as we were waiting for the back announcement to see who it was. The song was ‘Oxygene Part 3’ by Jean- Michel Jarre. Though we had to rewind the tape a few times to clearly make that out.

Dad seemed really excited by it and said he’d order the album for me. It was the first and only record my Dad had ever given me. When it finally arrived, we got a call from the record store to tell us to come and pick it up. Dad drove me all the way into the city from the Northern suburbs to a little laneway record store to pick up the album.

I played that record so many times, I had to dub it onto cassette in case I wore the vinyl out. It served as a major influence on my production, song-writing and synthesizer programming with Pseudo Echo, and another of my projects, Origene, hence the homage in the namesake. Less than ten years after hearing Oxygene that first time, I had started my own journey with Pseudo Echo. ‘Oxygene Part 3’ was our first ever intro tape, which we used for many years.

BC

This month saw the release of Pseudo Echo’s ‘lost’ album, ‘1990 The Lost Album Demos’. You can listen to this highly anticipated ninth studio here. The band will also head out on tour through July and August 2021.

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