Moon Safari

Wall of Sound Review

A mesh of electronic synthesizers, pop sentiment, and organically grown rhythms, the debut album from delicate French duo Air is a deliciously atmospheric effort that references everything from Jean Jacques Perrey's In Sounds From Way Out to the French new wave. What make the group's music so appealing, though, is that their synth sounds are deliberately modern, sounding both earthy and cosmic, and equally at home in down-tempo chill-out rooms of all-night parties or in fancy makeup commercials on TV.

Yet as the album's opener, "La Femme D'Argent," proves, there's hardly anything cosmetic about this band. The intricate instrumental piece is drunk with hopscotching percussion, the sounds of rain, and a bass line that seems to be daydreaming. The group's celestial being is further expanded by an underlying sense of pop, albeit a somewhat harlequin one. "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly Watch the Stars," are two odd delicacies that feature layers and layers of Moogs, Rhodes, and Wurlitzer keyboards while the two Air boys sing silly French lyrics using vocoder boxes. "All I Need" is an equally attractive song, but takes a different, more natural route instead. Guest vocalist Beth Hirsch sings with a wonderful weightlessness that complements the dub-heavy, aerated musical backdrop. Further demonstrating the band's range are "Talisman" and "La Voyage de Penelope," two deliberately sedate instrumentals that recall the tender moments in cinematic scores by Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota. Ironically, there's a gravitational weight to the group and its music simply because of its quirky sensibility, musical talents, and, presumably, French citizenship-which, of course, makes Air, despite the name, anything but light and fluffy.