Moon Safari

Music Calamity Review

No one can say that French band Air is not an ambitious troupe. Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicholas Godin, who are collectively Air, have made an album full of great "head trip" music that has already been called this year's OK Computer (Radiohead) against all odds. Air have an image just as nebulous as their name. The guys of Air used to work as an accountant and a high school teacher. Also, French music is undergoing a major renaissance, especially in the club scene where Air's music is very popular. In fact, this French music revolution can be called a "naissance" - there were no purveyors of French electronic or pop music like Air... until now.

Air's Moon Safari opens with the trippy space swirl known as "La Femme D'argent." Quite simply, this piece is just plain amazing. This kind of piece, with its repetitive melody and structural rhythm, is considered to be 'boring' by some people's standards. But Air boggles the mind with their lusciously layered textures and beautiful surrealness. This piece, and album in general, is perfect for when one is reading, doing homework, or writing. The sheer challenging quality of the music, all while being calming and oddly profound, is truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. There are no lyrics... and no singing. Just pure enlightenment here.

The next track is "Sexy Boy," the album's single. It's lounge music for the 90's, with 98% of its lyrics sung in French. This track's not as innovative as "La Femme D'argent." Electronic bands like Orbital have been doing songs like this for years. But leave it to Air to push those boundaries created in the years past and leave the listener in total rock euphoria anyway!

"All I Need," with lyrics sung in English for that traditional rock listener, comes up next, but is slightly flawed. The song is sometimes cliched and too sleepy. Floridian Beth Hirsch's vocals provide a nice accompaniment to Air's keyboard and guitar wizardry, which truly steals the show.

"Kelly Watch The Stars," a mainly instrumental synth-pop ditty comes up next, and is a dip into happier music for Air. I like it for its euphoric ear candy headtrip quality! "Talisman" is the next track, and it's perfect background music for anything. Air's music has a decidedly mysterious flavor to it. "Talisman" constantly builds, even adding a string ensemble to the mix.

"Remember" and "New Star In The Sky" are two of the following tracks, and are the low points of this album. They are both torpid and awkward sounding, with strangely out of place vocals. It's classic headtrip music, reminscient of other electronic bands.

"You Make It Easy" is Air's most pop rock-sounding track, and even calling it that is a stretch. Beth Hirsch adds her vocals to this song and it works pretty well. "Ce Matin La" is another masterwork by Air; the string ensemble, tuba, and other wind instruments add the most interesting tone color Air has to offer on this album. The piece is good, too.

"Le Voyage De Penelope" closes out the album, painting a final surreal euphoria for the listener. It's definitely 'exit music' and the title, translated to "Penelope's trip," speaks gallons about Moon Safari. It's a trip like no other! If you're willing to open your mind to music that is definitely different, you must check out Air's Moon Safari.
Four stars (out of five)