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Air the French Band - electronica never sounded so good

Updated on April 1, 2011
Air are a progressive french band with a list of impressive albums!
Air are a progressive french band with a list of impressive albums!

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?

Air are Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel.
Air are Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel.

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. 

"Breaker - breaker - you got your ears on, good buddy?" Mais, Oui!
"Breaker - breaker - you got your ears on, good buddy?" Mais, Oui!

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
Charlotte Gainsbourg

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


Submit a Comment

  • Cheeky Girl profile imageAUTHOR

    Cassandra Mantis 

    7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    Hy epigramman, it's nice to know you are musical. Music is food for the soul, after all. :D I meant to ask - have yo ever been published as a writer poet? You should be well published, your poetry is just knockout!

    I am glad you like Air. As for my mix, I guess that's what I like a nice mix of many things. My mind is a sponge, it absorbs a lot of information. LOL! Aw, ya don't hafta bow, I am not royalty, just a cheeky girl! Hehehe! Have a good weekend, my friend. :D

  • epigramman profile image


    7 years ago I am a master musicologist I always appreciate a good hub on music of any kind - and this is one of the better ones - thanks to you!

    You also cover an eclectic mix of subjects ....and that is usually a sign of a confident open-minded writer - again I bow to you!

  • Cheeky Girl profile imageAUTHOR

    Cassandra Mantis 

    8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    Maita, if I was on a sinking boat and had music I had to save, I would probably choose to save my Hub collections and Air music especially. I heard this song walking along a beach at sunset with friends (the song in the video above) and it was just amazing. The music was coming from a bar near by, and we spent the evening there enjoying the company and the music and atmosphere. This French band is just always good. They never made a bad album. How many music groups can make that claim?

    As always, thanks for the lovely warm comments, moi friend! Love ya! x

  • prettydarkhorse profile image


    8 years ago from US

    cute guys, nice music and good writer, what more can you ask? My cheeky, thank you always!Maita

  • Cheeky Girl profile imageAUTHOR

    Cassandra Mantis 

    8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    Sumi: I think their musical ideas are sound enough, and they know what makes a good tune, and they have produced not only their own albums, but those of others! And soundtracks! Their new current work is very good!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    AIr are ok, need better ideas musically, nice page. good!

  • Cheeky Girl profile imageAUTHOR

    Cassandra Mantis 

    8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    To Mega1: I will check out your hub on Thao! Sounds interesting! Thanks for the comments. : )

  • mega1 profile image


    8 years ago

    I like unusual music, maybe I'll like Air - gonna check em out. I also like Thao with the Get Down Stay Down and wrote a little hub about them - you maybe will like them too! Probably you know about them already - So thanks!

  • Cheeky Girl profile imageAUTHOR

    Cassandra Mantis 

    8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    To BadCompany:

    *laughing here a lot* Poor Jean Michel jarre! Quel Surprise! LOL! Oh well, at least you like Beck! You have redeemed yourself! You must be working hard on your hub! Will massage help you? *wonders what kind of hub this is* Oh, you and your self-massage! LOL! Yes, I will have a good weekend, BadCompany. You crack me up! I hope your weekend is fun and you behave yourself and don't fall overboard! I'm kidding! I always have fun. You know what fun I like! I'm not called Cheeky Girl for nothing! ; )

  • Cheeky Girl profile imageAUTHOR

    Cassandra Mantis 

    8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

    Yes, I love Jarre too, SimeyC. Yes, Air are a very good group, the do instrumental as well as vocal arrangements. As for Charlotte, I'm glad you like her. She is a real star! Her album "5.55" was co-written with the band Air, well worth checking out. She is working on a new album with Beck now. Nice to have your comments here! : )

  • SimeyC profile image

    Simon Cook 

    8 years ago from NJ, USA

    Great Hub - I might have to check these out as I love Jean Michelle Jarre - used to love his shows where he projected onto buildings while playing songs from Equinox or Oxygene! I love Charlotte Gainsbourg - a great actrees - didn't realize she was into music too!


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