new album released Oct 6th
from the album - Do The Joy
YouTube - Air - Do The Joy
More apt to cite stately rock paragons Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson as their inspirations than Derrick May or Aphex Twin, the French duo Air gained inclusion into the late-'90s electronica surge due chiefly to the labels their recordings appeared on, not the actual music they produced. Their sound, a variant of the classic disco sound coaxed into a relaxing Prozac vision of the late '70s, looked back to a variety of phenomena from the period — synthesizer maestros Tomita, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Vangelis, new wave music of the nonspiky variety, and obscure Italian film soundtracks. Despite gaining quick entrance into the dance community (through releases for Source and Mo' Wax), Air's 1998 debut album, Moon Safari, charted a light — well, airy — course along soundscapes composed with melody lines by Moog and Rhodes, not Roland and Yamaha. The presence of several female vocalists, an equipment list whose number of pieces stretched into the dozens, and a baroque tuba solo on one track — all of this conspired to make Air more of a happening in the living room than the dancefloor.
Though Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel both grew up in Versailles, the two didn't meet until they began studying at the same college. Dunckel, who had studied at the Conservatoire in Paris, played in an alternative band named Orange. One of Dunckel's bandmates, Alex Gopher, introduced Godin into the lineup. While Gopher himself departed (later to record for the Solid label), Dunckel and Godin continued on, becoming Air by 1995. During 1996-1997, the duo released singles on Britain's Mo' Wax ("Modular") and the domestic Source label ("Casanova 70," "Le Soleil Est Prés de Moi"). Though Air often evinced the same '60s Continental charm as Dimitri From Paris — due no doubt to the influence of Serge Gainsbourg — the duo had little in common musically with other acts (Daft Punk) in the wave of French electronica lapping at the shores of Britain and America during 1997. That same year, Air remixed Depeche Mode and Neneh Cherry and joined French musique concrète popster Jean-Jacques Perrey for a track on the Source compilation Sourcelab, Vol. 3.
Signed to Virgin, Air released their debut album, Moon Safari, in early 1998. The singles "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly Watch the Stars" became moderate hits in Britain and earned airplay on MTV. Later that year, Godin and Dunckel mounted an ambitious tour throughout Europe and America, though they had originally decided to forego live appearances. Their early singles were collected in 1999 under the title Premiers Symptomes; the duo's soundtrack to the Sofia Coppola film The Virgin Suicides followed in early 2000. Air's second studio effort, 10,000 Hz Legend, appeared in spring 2001 with a subsequent tour of the U.S., but critics and fans alike didn't appreciate the darker, more experimental direction. They bridged the gap between the pop of Moon Safari and the experimentalism of 10,000 Hz Legend with their 2004 release Talkie Walkie. Along with touring in support of that album, the pair remained busy making music in 2005 and 2006: they collaborated, along with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, on Charlotte Gainsbourg's album 5:55, and Dunckel released a solo album as Darkel. Cocker and Hannon also appeared on Air's fourth album, Pocket Symphony, which was released in early 2007. On one leg of the band's Pocket Symphony tour in 2008, the duo performed with just longtime collaborator and drummer Joey Waronker as their backing band. They kept this lineup for their next album, 2009's Love 2, which marked Air's first self-produced work and featured a more streamlined sound than some of their previous music.
For part of Air's Pocket Symphony tour, JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin played shows with only drummer Joey Waronker as support, forcing the band to strip their songs down to their essences. They stick with that lineup on Love 2, which delivers some of the most Air-like music to the band's name, and with good reason: This is the first time Dunckel and Godin have produced their own album. The duo tends to follow their more ambitious work with more accessible material and Love 2 is no exception, replacing Pocket Symphony's exotic, experimental bent with a renewed emphasis on their quintessential sound. Godin and Dunckel dig deep into their arsenal of vintage electronic gear, topping those burbles, buzzes and whooshes with some strings here and a few fuzzed-out guitars and basslines there. Above all, atmosphere is the focus, and early on, the album finds Air at their most confectionary: "Love" is irresistibly pretty, offsetting a glockenspiel that sparkles like grains of sugar with brisk shakers. From there, Love 2 sweeps away any remnants of Pocket Symphony's expansive melancholy with concentrated happiness - these are some of Air's most lighthearted songs since Talkie Walkie. "Be a Bee," with its aptly buzzing and hovering synths and spy movie theme guitars, could be one of the most stylish novelty pop songs ever. However, the album is often at its best when Air gives listeners more in the way of vocals and hooks. The elegantly psychedelic "So Light is Her Footfall" and the hazy soft-rock sunbeam that is "Sing Sang Sung" expand on the band's pop side just enough, while "Heaven's Light"'s crystallizes the gorgeous retro-futuristic sci-fi romance Air has crafted since their Premeire Symptomes days. Indeed, Love 2's title and album artwork - which features the duo sitting by the shore gazing pensively into the mid-distance - play up Air's image as makers of mood music extraordinaire, albeit with a bit of an ironic wink. The music does just as deft a job of negotiating the fine line between sophistication and schmaltz; Love 2's centerpiece "Tropical Disease" has it both ways, going from dramatic to melodramatic to playful and back again as it covers rippling pianos, slightly goofy sounding flutes and a decidedly seductive coda. Dunckel and Godin add just a little tension and darkness to the album's sweetness and light as it unfolds, especially on "Eat My Beat," an impressive showcase for the immediacy Waronker's drumming brings to all of these songs. Air remains a deceptively subtle band, but repeated listens to Love 2 reveal that Godin and Dunckel aren't just remaining true to their aesthetic here, but that even a smaller-scale album from the duo has plenty of wit and surprises to offer.
1 Do the Joy Dunckel, Godin 03:02
2 Love Dunckel, Godin 02:43
3 So Light Is Her Footfall Dunckel, Godin 03:13
4 Be a Bee Dunckel, Godin 03:46
5 Missing the Light of the Day Dunckel, Godin 04:26
6 Tropical Disease Dunckel, Godin 06:49
7 Heaven's Light Dunckel, Godin 03:53
8 Night Hunter Dunckel, Godin 04:13
9 Sing Sang Sung Dunckel, Godin 03:07
10 Eat My Beat Dunckel, Godin 02:46
11 You Can Tell It to Everybody Dunckel, Godin 04:11
12 African Velvet Dunckel, Godin 03:53