Air doesn't claim to be from space...but perhaps they should. Their music fits the astral bill. The band is a loose duo from France and their music is a peculiar mix of very groovy electronica, luscious grooved soul, and cosmically silly pop reminiscent of electronic music pioneer/goof-ball Jean-Jacques Perrey.
Air claims to draw its style from the writings of Le Corbusier, the French modernist architect. His now famous statement, "The primordial instinct of every human being is to assure himself a shelter," is the basis and departure point for the bands quirky, incredible tunes. Indeed, Air's music is very structural, like one of Le Corbusier's conceptual buildings, but it is also loose and free floating. There is no tension between these ideas of enclosure and freedom. Rather, the music tends to give you the sense of floating in a comfortably controlled environment.
The opening song, "La Femme D'Argent" is the kind of song that you might play on repeat for hours. It grabs you and sucks you into its rhythmic beauty while minimalist organ invites your mind to drift off into the stratosphere. Strangely, and perhaps unfortunately, the rest of the album somehow avoids "La Femme"'s sublime ambiance.
Instead, Moon Safari delves, with post-modern playfulness, into the possibilities of antiquated electronic equipment. Although this album is very obviously composed on a synthesizer, it's far from digital and certainly not sampled. It sounds like electronic music dating back from before the days of Casio. Tracks such as "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly, Watch the Stars" rely on a complex layering of very low-tech electronics to create a sort of post-disco sound that Devo would have been proud of.
Which isn't to say that Air is "Through Being Cool," by any stretch of the imagination. There is a cleverness to their music. Although your mind can't help but wander during tracks like "New Star in the Sky," you sometimes get a paranoid sense that your brain is being told which direction to wander in by two intellectual wise-asses.
Moon Safari is undoubtedly an album to own. It is beautifully textured and restrained in such a way as to make the music feel like, well, Air. The music lulls you into a timeless half-sleep where you can't remember whether your on the Magical Mystery Tour or moving on to the year 1998. Its electronic/ambient/funk/disco mix is one that will return to your stereo again and again, leaving a smile on your face each time.