Does anybody out there also think Magnetic Fields Pt. 4 is one of the most amazing JMJ tracks? Q: Has it ever been played live in any other setting except from the China Concerts?
If somebody asked me what my favourite JMJ track is, I couldn't say. It depends on my mood, whether I am listening on headphones, walking, running, at home and so on. There's so many track to choose from depending on the situation. But if somebody was to ask what the most "perfectly executed" JMJ track is, I would say Magnetic Fields Pt. 4.
It has a wonderful structure, the percussion is delicate (not the derivative thud thud of the Electronica years) and the melody is haunting. It has that melancholia that characterises so much of JMJ's music has but combines it with an optimism too. The structure builds over several verse-chorus-verse-chorus repeats, with little sonic additions each time. The vocoder chorus that starts at 2' 07" is distinctive but what makes it special is that bewitching "breaks like a wave" thing at 2' 33" when it reaches a tipping point. Same effect happens in Chronologie Pt. 1, when the music sort of tumbles over the other side of a high point at 1' 58".
The astonishing thing about Magnetic Fields Pt. 4 is that tipping point is reached well before halfway in a track that lasts 6' 12". It seems so brave to bring that point forward so early in a track and allow the second half to sort of drift away in a dream like state, before the rushing train and closing doors conclude things. Suggests JMJ was supremely confident about what he was doing here. So if one track was to capture JMJ's approach to composition and musicality, I would say it is Magnetic Fields Pt. 4: Long form, instrumental, delicate, melodic, the use of "found sound" with the train (ref to his GRM days) and a sadness yet an unbridled optimism too. It's faultless.
There is also something about that time, the early 1980s. Close enough to the Oxygene/Equinoxe years but not yet arrived at the bombast of Rendezvous Pt. 4 and Houston or Industrial Revolution and the Docklands. Bit of a sweet spot in his career.
Anyway, those are my thoughts!