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Air

With a sensual, atmospheric sound inspired by Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson as well as disco, synthesizer maestros Tomita, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Vangelis, new wave, and obscure Italian film soundtracks, Air may have been outliers in the late-'90s electronica boom, but they became one of the most influential electronic acts of the 2000s and beyond. Despite gaining quick entrance into the dance community (through releases for Source and Mo' Wax), Air's 1998 debut album, Moon Safari, charted a light -- well, airy -- course along soundscapes composed with melody lines by Moog and Rhodes, not Roland and Yamaha. The presence of several female vocalists, an equipment list whose number of pieces stretched into the dozens, and a Baroque tuba solo on one track -- all of this conspired to make Air more of a happening in the living room than the dancefloor.

Though Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel both grew up in Versailles, the two didn't meet until they began studying at the same college. Dunckel, who had studied at the Conservatoire in Paris, played in an alternative band named Orange. One of Dunckel's bandmates, Alex Gopher, introduced Godin into the lineup. While Gopher himself departed (later to record for the Solid label), Dunckel and Godin continued on, becoming Air by 1995. During 1996-1997, the duo released singles on Britain's Mo' Wax ("Modular") and the domestic Source label ("Casanova 70," "Le Soleil Est Prés de Moi"). Though Air often evinced the same '60s Continental charm as Dimitri from Paris -- due no doubt to the influence of Serge Gainsbourg -- the duo had little in common musically with other acts (Daft Punk) in the wave of French electronica lapping at the shores of Britain and America during 1997. That same year, Air remixed Depeche Mode and Neneh Cherry and joined French musique concrète popster Jean-Jacques Perrey for a track on the Source compilation Sourcelab, Vol. 3.

Signed to Virgin, Air released their debut album, Moon Safari, in early 1998. The singles "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly Watch the Stars" became moderate hits in Britain and earned airplay on MTV. Later that year, Godin and Dunckel mounted an ambitious tour throughout Europe and America, though they had originally decided to forego live appearances. Their early singles were collected in 1999 under the title Premiers Symptomes; the duo's soundtrack to the Sofia Coppola film The Virgin Suicides followed in early 2000. Air's second studio effort, 10,000 Hz Legend, appeared in spring 2001 with a subsequent tour of the U.S., but critics and fans alike didn't appreciate the darker, more experimental direction. They bridged the gap between the pop of Moon Safari and the experimentalism of 10,000 Hz Legend with their 2004 release, Talkie Walkie.

Along with touring in support of that album, the pair remained busy making music in 2005 and 2006: they collaborated, along with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, on Charlotte Gainsbourg's album 5:55, and Dunckel released a solo album as Darkel. Cocker and Hannon also appeared on Air's fourth album, Pocket Symphony, which was released in early 2007. On one leg of the band's Pocket Symphony tour in 2008, the duo performed with just longtime collaborator and drummer Joey Waronker as their backing band. They kept this lineup for their next album, 2009's Love 2, which marked Air's first self-produced work and featured a more streamlined sound than some of their previous music. Dunckel and Godin went in a very different direction for their next album, which was based on an original score they created for the 1902 classic silent film Le Voyage Dans la Lune. The pair created the score in less than a month, working with collaborators such as Au Revoir Simone and Beach House's Victoria LeGrand, then expanded it into a full-length album that was released early in 2012. Later in the 2010s, Dunckel further established himself as a composer for film, embarked on with New Young Pony Club's Lou Hayter (as Tomorrow's World) and Bang Gang's Bardi Jóhannsson (as Starwalker), and returned to his Darkel project with 2015's lavish The Man of Sorrow EP. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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I hate this song because it reminds me of the best times of my life.
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Air is super chill.
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The music is so good, pure, raw. I love this group and have never gotten tired of them. I wish they would make extended recordings of some of their songs. It's great for sex!
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Air...it's ok, but cannot get over those comments that are way over in exuberance over this group
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Sounds like Pink Floyd. I love this ��
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Throws me back to the late 60's early 70's when the American experience was growing and progressing on many levels socially and innovatively through new technologies back then...and here we are now...nice throw-back gentlemen!!!
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Throws me back to the late 60's early 70's when the American experience was growing and progressing on many levels socially and innovatively through new technologies back then...and here we are now...nice!! !
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jtny786
Nice Air.
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I have yet to ever get tired of listening to their music it reaches down into my Soul
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I have made beautiful love to their music. I don't know what else matters.
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Tight!
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Good good
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Magestic, sensacionale s .
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Cherry blossom girl!!!!!!
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edh61
Disco on Prozac??? - no bias on the part of the person who wrote this bio...
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..not bad for '98..
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such a poorly written bio... whoever wrote that has lost all credibility forever.
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awesome sound...love this group...perf e c t name
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Seriously, no where does it use the word masterpiece to describe Moon Safari
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This bio truly infuriates me. Air is such a talented band Sex Born Poison and How Does it Make You Feel will always be two of my favorite songs in the world.
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The wife of money ♥️��
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Loved these guys since Moonlight Safari...ori g i n a l sound hard to place in a particular genre. With that being said. ..half a** bio.
Like Air try M83
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the French duo Air gained inclusion into the late-'90s electronica surge due chiefly to the labels their recordings appeared on, not the actual music they produced.
Are you kidding me???
Then how did they span from 1998-now? Luck? The power of a label?
If you don't like something out of the gate, then you should hire someone at least neutral to do the review.
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I really like this group excellent Bio write up John Bush, I can’t believe the so called popular fan base of music think that Deft Punk is better. I guess I’m always going to be destine to the more obscure forms of music. I left mainstream popular music back in the 90s
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I simply cannot live....with o u t Air.
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Moon Safari is pretty much a masterpiece.
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That piano at the end is always unexpected. So beautiful. Reminds me of the songs Old Piano by Frou Frou.
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Yo hit the vaporizer right befor this came on closed my eyes felt like I was floating HaHaHaHa!!!! ! ! T R I P I N G ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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Air. Cant top that. ever
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I LIKE this..Quebec City expatriot soul '71
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chelcsmiles
playground love on beach house radio? no, no, no, Virgin Suicides is where it's at
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Yea really weird bio
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So awesome that Playground Love comes up on Elliott Smith radio. Two greats.
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lasowko
The bio is an opinion piece, not a biography. It's a real disservice to the Pandora community.
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I'm sensing some sexual tension between these two XP good duo too
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Not sure bob is very old...?
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thanks Pandora
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adamnfisher
Yeah, get off whatever you're on, bob, and breathe the Air.
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You've been bobbing on it too long.
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electronica = a no talent pseudo-music i a n programming a cheap Casio system they got for Christmas
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burkify
bliss...
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hey hardcorestud y 7 7 . you're an idiot.
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Air is for lonely me
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Melancholy :)
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This song ( Playground Love --Vibraphone Version) reminds me a bit of the chill jam by Pink Floyd in Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Yes? No? Just me? Well, anyway, it's great in it's mellowness, like watching ice melt.
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I as well have loved them since their beginning. And yes, replace this retched bio. Pandora does a horrible job with bios.
Oh the French. Such amazing musicians. Among other things ;)
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The Air I breath. I have loved them since their beginning.
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Ahhhhhh chill back and relax to the smooth sounds of AIR. Good music!
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Air always gives great ambiance
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I love the twilight series songs!!!:) I'm such a twi heart fan!!
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