Air the French Band - electronica never sounded so good
Air is a combination of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel. Their sound of amazing and hypnotic electronic is influenced by synth music of the 1970’s, and Francis Lai, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Serge Gainsbourg and Tangerine Dream. For french music, this is a very unusual mix! The Name AIR is a combination of Amour, Imagination, and Reve (dream), apparently called a backronym. While Godin was an Architecture student and Dunckel was studying Mathematics, they played together in the band Orange before forming Air in 1995. What happened to Orange is anyone’s guess. What AIR accomplished, however is quite impressive. But how did they manage to impress the music world so quickly?
Their debut EP Premier Symptomes caught many people’s imagination, a curious mix of intriguing electronica and chillout music, as did Moon Safari, the follow up album which found mainstream success. The distinct electronic sound and the band’s image, moulded by successful videos for such hit singles as Sexy Boy helped establish AIR as a serious music group with a difference. The curious mix of Vocoders, Korg MS-20 and Moog Synthesisers work to good effect both on live stage performances and in their studio recordings, resulting in a sometimes mellow, almost trip-hop like sound combined with chilled out riffs and clever music writing. The sound seems to be deliberately crafted to be relaxing or energetic but always retaining a dynamic that commands attention. Clearly these two guys have a great ear for a catchy tune Style is essential, even to listen to and any Air Album will have these markers which make their music distinctive.
The list of albums includes The Virgin Suicides, 10 000 Hz Legend, Everybody Hertz, Talkie Walkie, Late Night Tales, Pocket Symphony, and Love 2. The band have composed music for several feature films and gained major kudos with Sofia Copolla’s The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. Air are known for their musical collaborations, having worked with Beck, Jarvis Cocker, Divine Comedy and more recently with Charlotte Gainsbourg, on the seminal album “5.55”. Their collaborations have been hugely successful to date. And still, they prefer to create amazing music to their own clever and specific style. The result is that Air have now attained a niche in modern music.TV Networks such as the BBC have used their music in program promotions and it constantly appears in documentaries. Their music is increasingly being seen as a kind of modern commentary, and compatible with modern televisual and cinematic commentary. Sophia Cappolla, daughter of Francis Ford Cappolla (of The Godfather film trilogy fame) has used their music many times in her films.
Air are hugely popular and seem to have found a niche in French and World Music, too offbeat to be Pet Shop Boys, though there are some similarities, yet very electronica-oriented and strong enough to appeal to a broad church of music listeners. As long as they can be unusual and yet be appealing and churn out those catchy hit singles, they can endure. If you lock a song away for a time, then take it out and “re-release” it to a new group of listeners and it surprises and turns heads, then that is good music. Air are unique. Like other French groups, they have overcome the sometimes-snobbish language and culture barriers and have proved that France is a Nation of Great Music Makers: they have gone on and found great success. For this group, the future is looking bright.
Enjoy this amazing song "Another Day" from the "Talkie Walkie" album.
Air - Another Day ( from "Talkie Walkie" )
Charlotte Gainsbourg has collaborated on the album"5.55" with Air. The album was unusual, since Air have never worked with a female artist since Francois hardy. So it was always going to be interesting to see if it would work out. In the end, it worked out beautifully. Read the full article on 5.55 and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Copyright 2009 Cheeky Girl
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