Jean-Michel Jarre’s New Album & L-Acoustics
OXYMORE leverages L-ISA Studio pioneering immersive technology.
On October 21st, Sony Music released pioneering electronic artist Jean-Michel Jarre’s 22nd album, considered to be one of his most ambitious projects to date. OXYMORE — which was conceived and produced as an immersive work — is also seeing its release on both spatial and 3D binaural formats, which enables listeners to experience the album on a variety of playback systems, including headphones. To produce the immersive album master Jean-Michel Jarre collaborated with longtime sound designer — and initiator of the Radio France Innovation Studio — Hervé Déjardin, who used L-Acoustics L-ISA Studio to create and deliver the 360° experience.
OXYMORE is unique in that it was composed, mixed and produced with spatial audio in mind from the outset, and therefore promises a deeper listening experience for music fans worldwide. The immersive concepts of the album were ‘road tested’ during a live world preview showcase at Hyper Weekend Festival held at the Maison de la Radio in Paris in January of 2022. Here the creators were able to translate and extend concepts from the live performance to the new album using the L-ISA Studio immersive software platform.
Using revolutionary technology as their ‘paintbrush’, Jean-Michel Jarre and Déjardin set out to push the limits of what was artistically possible. Déjardin says that L-ISA Studio gave him the perfect canvas on which to create. “I spent a lot of time looking at the tools I would need to realise Jean-Michel Jarre’s creative vision — which was to make a deeper emotional connection with the listener,” he recalls. “I decided to use L-ISA Studio because I knew it was more than capable of handling all the spatial movements I needed for the composition. I also knew, based on my prior experience with L-Acoustics, that L-ISA Studio was a stable platform and that I wouldn’t encounter any technical issues.”
A Collaboration Built On Technology
In his ‘day job’ at Radio France, where he contributes to the development of immersive audio, Déjardin routinely tests new software tools and working methodologies to challenge the status quo of what is possible. For OXYMORE, he says that he needed a tool that would carry the project forward, putting Jarre’s demanding artistic dimension before the technical. Using L-ISA Studio, the project was mixed at the Radio France studio. Once the mix was completed using 12 loudspeakers, Déjardin and Jean-Michel Jarre also monitored the mix on 5.1.4 and 7.1.4 set ups, using L-ISA Studio as the ‘bridge’ among the various formats. At the end of the project, it was output to Dolby Atmos.
In addition to the multi-channel surround mixes, Déjardin also had to account for the binaural rendering for spatial audio distribution — something that he says can be enormously challenging for producers to get right in modern immersive productions. “I think this is the most important thing that today’s producers should concentrate on, because I see a lot of productions that work for loudspeakers, but how many people listen with 5.1 or 7.1?” he says. “The essential point — as I see on my train every morning — is that people are listening on headphones.”
A great deal of care and detail was put into automation during the mixing process Déjardin says, describing the hundreds of automation lines he wrote to capture all the spatial movements on the album. “The importance of capturing these movements cannot be overstated. For just two tracks, I would have 300 or 400 automation lines to incorporate spatial movements within the song. I know I can rely on L-ISA Studio for this degree of accuracy.”
Inspirational Tools For An Exquisite Artist
As one of the most accomplished electronic music artists of all time, Jean-Michel Jarre continues to inspire future generations. “Jean-Michel is exceptional because he is still young, fresh, curious and passionate,” Déjardin says. “All the conceptual work in the beginning was to explore what we could do with spatialisation, since it can convey a greater degree of emotion. L-ISA Studio worked very well and was exactly what we needed in this regard. Jean-Michel wants to take listeners to a new place whilst also pushing the creative frontiers of where sound is going in the future, and I am certain we have achieved this on OXYMORE.”
Private guests were recently treated to an advance preview of Jean-Michel Jarre’s OXYMORE in L-Acoustics Creations immersive sound spaces in London and Los Angeles, and in the Innovation Studio at Maison de la Radio France. Early feedback indicates that OXYMORE takes listeners on an imaginative and incredibly immersive journey.
Jean-Michel Jarre sums up the experience of creating OXYMORE saying, “Together, Hervé and I called on the best current technology on the project to create the feeling of being in the centre of the sound of music. With this kind of composition, I think we can really — for the first time — be in the middle of the experience, and further develop the essential and visceral relationship with the music.”