The most recent French contribution of note to contemporary music was 1997's Daft Punk album whose acclaimed manic club anthems weren't everyone's cup of café latte. As we also know, all too well, Paris was the unfortunate scene of the decade's biggest global bummer when Princess Di's candle was snuffed out. The football World Cup in France in June could bring some good vibes back to Gaul but music is the universal healer (besides Penicillin) and something excellent is needed. Air are actually two musicians who hail from Paris, namely Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunkel. 'Moon Safari', their debut album, is a thing of gentle beauty and should go a long way toward redressing the bad vibe balance. The album was recorded in the band's studio which is located next to the quiet of a golf course just outside their hometown of Versailles. It is a gorgeous, trippy post-club ambient work that contains a widely diffuse mixture of some of the finest 20th century musical elements. Sounding like a series of soundtracks in search of a movie, its top-pop touches merge with a sussed and assured electronica feel.
There are musical references and homages to, among others, Burt Bacharach, John Barry, Ennio Morricone and the late legendary French hip-muse Serge Gainsbourg, whose sexy spirit pervades Air's current radio and chart single, the breathy 'Sexy Boy'. The majority of these ten tracks, notably the album's opener 'La Femme D'Argent' and 'Ce Matin La', are well-worked instrumentals utilising a broad selection of sounds from the versatile skills of this classically-trained keyboard-adept duo.
An American singer, Beth Hirsch, was brought in to add some guest female vocals to 'All I Need' and 'You Make It Easy' but overall this is Air's opus and they have preferred to do most of it themselves. This French confection is the perfect soundtrack to the end of the century in its own peaceful and ecstatic way. It is truly a "Treat-E of Versailles" for the '90's.