A new release by Jean Michel Jarre is always something to get excited about - well I get excited anyway - so it was good to hear about the release of the InFiné by JMJ album, which came out on Monday.
First up, this isn't actually a new Jarre album. Instead, Jarre has chosen 12 tracks from the InFiné records back catalogue.
The label specialises in a blend of classica, ambient, techno and minimal, or as it describes it "easy music for the hard to please." It was established in 2006 by electronic music musician/producer Agoria, founder of the annual Lyon Nuits Sonores festival, and Alexandre Cazac, formerly of Delabel and PIAS records, along with Yannick Matray, formerly of the musicians and artist's intellectual rights society ADAMI.
Early signings for the label signed artists such as pianist/composer Francesco Tristano and electro artist Danton Eeprom. Since it was set up, the label has encouraged young artists, particularly those from a classical background, to push the frontiers of electronic music.
Needless to say, it's a comparatively small operation on a global scale, with a small albeit loyal audience. Releases by the bigger selling artists subsidise the less commercial releases.
Regarding the Jarre project, the label said: "For the past six years, as a label, we have fought hard to cultivate our unique sounds and spread them beyond the French borders.
"As a new year begins, we thought it would be a good idea to ask a leading figure of the Arts, who shares our ethics, to browse through our wide-ranging catalogue and put together their own collection of InFiné tracks. We loved the idea of having a fresh take on the music we produce, enabling us to step out of our microcosm.
"Jean Michel Jarre accepted this rather odd proposal, showing he cares deeply about our cause and the struggles that come with it. Without the convictions and beliefs he has always had and fought for, our lives would probably be very different to how they are today!"
Jarre wrote: "InFiné is in that league of labels displaying the kind of audacity only to be found in true artists. Like the musicians it represents, it has kept on demonstrating how important it is to have a common vision, a common ambition in order to initiate and finalise groundbreaking projects.
"When I first listened to InFiné’s productions, I sensed a connection and a common approach to art. This desire to venture freely into new territories is what has been driving me since the start of my career and I can see how much Oxygène InFiné provides for its artists."
For those eagerly awaiting new Jarre material, the release will be more of a tease than anything else. But as an exercise in introducing new music to a new audience that will probably be sympathetic to it, the project can only be a huge success.
I can't count the number of label samplers I've come across over the year, many of which go unlistened and unloved and many of which probably deserve better. A CD stuck to the cover of a magazine might get listened to once if it's lucky. But a CD of tracks chosen by an artist whose work you admire is more likely to get the benefit of the doubt.
There are some who criticise Jarre as being a populist, but over the decades there have been few other artists who have expanded the musical horizons of so many people. Whether whether through his legendary city-sized gigs or his giving away copies of his most famous work with copies of a newspaper, he's made what could be a fairly specialist music.
Hopefully the release will get the attention of several thousand new pairs of ears to a label that's releasing some genuinely innovative work.