...written and compiled by spank.
As club culture continually fragments, divides and reinvents itself it is very rare to find an album that finds universal recognition. This has only been the case with a handful of LPs, think Massive Attacks Blue Lines, think Leftfields Leftism, think Stone Roses Stone Roses, think...well thats about it really. So what is it about these albums that manage to fully integrate themselves into popular culture yet retain every bit of coolness they were originally created with? Firstly from the instant you heard them you knew it was the album you had been looking for for so very long - even to the extent that you thought you knew some of the tracks already. Secondly, as the years passed these albums retained the same freshness and relevance as when you originally heard them. Where as some albums have a limited shelf life it became clear that these albums were indeed timeless.
So where is the elaborate build up leading? Well the time is upon us when we brace ourselves for another of these immortal long players; Airs Moon Safari. Ten of the finest compositions ever to be housed within 45 minutes (for a full review see page 27). It was last year when the French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit-Dunkel brought Air to the fore with the release of Casanova 70 on the French Source label (and now available on Sourcelab 2). Breezy percussion met wafting horns, the most delicate of guitars and was topped with the cheekiest of Hammond organs. Whereas everybody else was increasing the BPMs, Air took an approach that was so laid back it was horizontal. Godin makes explicit that beats are not the priority; Sometimes we even finish a track before we realise we havent put any rhythm in. The second twelve inch Modulor, licensed to the forward thinking MoWax, and the most recent Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi (Source) further defined Airs sound. A sound featuring real drums, distorted vocals, intricate strings that are not just added by an over zealous producer and a penchant for Moogs and Seventies equipment. All this is then put into a Nineties context....and beyond.
So if we return to the original argument why is Moon Safari going to join the hallowed ranks of the aforementioned albums? In answer it not only fits the gap between easy-listening, avant-garde pop, funk and electronica; Air redefines all these genres and forms a class of its own. Whilst both Godin and Dunckel are classically trained the music is simple, the cleverness being in the composition using chords that are so distinct that one instantly recognises an Air track. However such is the depth of the influences and the slant which Air place upon them that in ten years time it will not be so easy to guess when this album was made. This is something that Air have actively tried to achieve. Dunckel states; It should be impossible to tell when an album was made by listening to it. Godin continues, The Beatles made ageless music but British bands such as Ocean Colour Scene and Oasis dont try to innovate like that. They havent produced a Nineties Sgt. Pepper or White Album, they just copy them. The only way to justice to your heroes is to take their music into the future.
(Air, Moon Safari is released on January 17 on Virgin. The single Sexy Boy will follow in February.)