Oxygene Part I
Oxygene Part VI
Jarre's 1976 solo album Oxygène was responsible for his rise to international stardom. Oxygène comprises six numbered synthesiser tracks that make strong use of melody, rather than rhythm or dissonance. Oxygène makes use of the Dutch Eminent 310, Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser on the Eminent's string pads, the Korg Minipops drum machine and liberal use of echo on various sound effects generated by the VCS3 synthesiser.
All those ethereal sounds on Oxygène IV come from the VCS3 ...It was the first European synthesizer, made in England by a guy called Peter Zinovieff. I got one of the first ones. I had to go to London in 1967 to get it, and it's the one I still have onstage 40 years later
—Jean Michel Jarre,
A minimalist concept album recorded at his home studio, on a small budget, Oxygène initially proved difficult to sell. Jarre was turned down by several companies, until Schaeffer's fellow student, Hélène Dreyfus (at the time her husband Francis's artistic director), persuaded her husband to publish the album on his label Disques Motors. The first pressing of 50,000 copies was promoted through hi-fi shops, clubs, and discos.
I just had three or four synthesizers and was using a Scully eight-track and a mixture of Ampex 256 and 3M tape. The whole album was done on just one eight-track and you can hear that in the piece — it's quite minimalist and I think that contributes to its timelessness
—Jean Michel Jarre,
By April 1977 Oxygène had sold 70,000 copies in France. Interviewed in Billboard magazine, Dreyfus director Stanislas Witold said "In a sense we're putting most of our bets on Jean Michel Jarre. He is quite exceptional and we're sure that by 1980 he will be recognised worldwide. Oxygène has since sold an estimated 12 million copies—the best-selling French record of all time. It reached number 2 in the UK album charts, number 65 in Canada, and broke the top 100 in the US. The album contains his most recognisable single, "Oxygène IV"'which reached number 4 in the UK single charts.