The Lounge Aristocrats
French aristocrats of lounge-core groove Air, alias JB Dunkel and Nicolas Godin, play their first Edinburgh Date at the Corn Exchange tomorrow night.
For some this will be the climax of an eight year love affair with a pair of musicians who have defied and defined an era.
It is perhaps not entirely ironic that this duo, who emerged from the dance scene writing the kind of music popularised by Bacharach and David in the 1960s, should be so trendy in a society enthralled by the sturm und drag of house, techno, trance and drum and bass.
This was the key to their original success. Air's lush, gentle, brassy chord progressions, spine-tingling sound effects and spaced out 1960s feel offered the perfect foil to all those hectic beats, plumbing the depths of the oceans in your soul. 1997's Le Solei Est Pres De Moi (Source) and Premiers Symptomes EPs did sound like seductive Bacharach and David ballads but also like nothing else around.
With Debut Album Moon Safari, in 1998, it became obvious that Air heralded the arrival of a wider lounge-core movement, cultivated on the underground by clubs such as Going Places in Edinburgh and popularised in the mainstream by those tacky chill-out compilations that very quickly became the scourge of this alternative, down temp club scene. But Moon Safari only went so far, hits such as Kelly Watch the stars and Sexy Boy wrapping an irritating four-minute time-limit around gorgeously repetitive beats and bleeps that were clearly designed to play on and on until their narcotic charms became too heavy and your eyelids drooped.
In 2001, Godin and Dunkel woefully attempted to rework the formula on second album 10,000Hz Legend by adopting a bizarre, progressive rock style. These songs had more in common with the work of Pink Floyd, post-Syd Barrett, which is a mixed blessing, depending on your point of view. So, what a relief that this year's Talkie Walkie follow-up is much more than merely a return to form, proving these Gallic groovers can do both hypnotic brain-dance and write sublime four minute pop songs you'll want to play on repeat until your lover has collapsed in your arms.