Air is a duo of French musicians, Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel. They started playing alternative rock in the 1980s in Paris, but reached maturity composing music that harks back to the heyday of Europop and Eurodisco, albeit transfigured by retro-futuristic arrangements. Moon Safari (1998), featuring vocalist Beth Hirsch, is a vastly more professional and ambitious proposition than their rather comidic and insubstantial early single releases.
The retro-sound of analog and moog keyboards is the prominent feature of the groups 'persona'. Korg keyboards, Moog synthesizers, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and vocoders bestow a zany campiness to the kitscy pop of Air's electronic dance music. The tracks exude Pink Floyd's psychedelic majesty, jazz's subdued ambience, random quotations from the history of soul, funk and disco music, and more than a passing mention of Burt Bacharach's and Ennio Morricone's scores.
The suave and uplifting jazz-rock theme of 'La Femme d'Argent', played and counterpointed on a plethora of timbres by the electronic keyboards, whirls like one of Terry Riley's minimalistic 'dervishes' before mutating into a driving movement for piano and orchestra. Their knack for post-modern revisions of commercial music is in full display. 'Sexy Boy' is culled from France's easy listening of the 1960s (steady Riviera rhythm, engaging organ refrain, sensual female singer) but augmented with bizarre sounds and a robotic tone.
A similar treatment awaits the bubblegum motiv of 'Kelly Watch The Stars', the catchy novelty 'Remember' and the joyful parody of orchestral movie soundtracks of 'Ce Matin La'. 'All I Need' is essentially a trip-hop version of a soul-jazz diva. Air are far from innovative or groundbreaking. However, they are to be credited with breathing new life into a dead body.