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4.4 out of 5 stars24
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Since "Premiers Symptomes" means "first symptoms," it's appropriate that it's the name of Air's collection of early singles. This French duo created a warm sweep of electronica that sounded like a complete , which is only marred by two funky, rather awkward songs pasted on to the end.

"Modular Mix" kicks it off -- a dreamy song that sounds like the soundtrack for an underwater movie. "Casanova 70" and the languid "Les Professionals" add a lounge-y sound. And "J'Ai Dormi Sous L'Eau" and "Le Soleil Est Près de Moi" are sweet and slow , almost like a pair of trip-hop lullabies.

The rerelease of "Premiers Symptomes" was given a bonus -- two new tracks, "Californie" and "Brakes On." Well, they're a mixed blessing. They're actually very fun songs -- funky, dancey and "Californie" has a stretch of ethereal electronica halfway after about a minute. But they just don't quite mesh with the early work.

"Premiers Symptomes" was compiled of singles released before the hit "Moon Safari," and so it has something of the same dreamy feeling. It's only a half hour long, but it's worth it to get the the romantic blend of ambient, trip-hop, funk and a hint of 60s psychedelic pop -- in a word, sensual chillout music!

Songs like "Modular Mix" have layers upon layers of shimmering keyboard. But "Casanova 70" and "J'ai Dormi Sous L'Eau" favor a more jazzy sound, with synthesized horns behind some twittery synths, while the spacey beats of "Les Professionals" sounds like a rainy morning near an alien city. Beside all these smooth sounds, the brash, bass-heavy extra songs sound harsh to the ear.

"Premiers Symptomes" is a must-have for Air fans (newbies had better start with something else), although the last two tracks aren't quite in sync with the first five. A beautiful experience, smooth and soft and sensual.
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I have just listened to this album. After having listened to 'Moon Safari' first I just had to get my ears around this. I just felt the tracks on this album were hauntingly beautiful, it's chill out mastery at its best, especially 'Le Soleil est Pres de Moi'. A definite to have in your collection. Lie back and just close your eyes.....
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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2004
The previous reviewer makes a few errors, this was made prior to Moon Safari, it was a combination of previous songs and releases. If anything Zero 7 took their sound from this and Moon Safari, the time difference between releases of debut records was about 4 years, in favour of Air. And most importantly, this album is a purer version of the Air sound. Some of the songs on this mini album are not just breathtaking but absolutely of a time that never existed and you know you are listening to something important. It is hard to make a listener feel like they do when they hear this record. Buy this album if you want a less sugary dose of Moon Safari. It is beautiful. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 24 January 2004
If your favourite bits of Moon Safari were the spaced out instrumentals, then this album is absolutely essential. In turns ambient, jazzy and dreamlike, this is music to kick back and drift off to.
As a compilation of pre-Moon Safari material, this hints at the wonders to come, literally in the coda to 'Les Professionels', which was so good they turned it into 'All I Need'. And the gallic film soundtrack atmosphere is a clear precursor to the equally rewarding 'Virgin Suicides OST'.
'Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi' is the beguiling and sun drenched centrepiece, which deserves to be on everyone's personal summer mixtape. Or winter one for that matter. It evokes the hazy air of a summer day perfectly. (You even get the video as a multimedia bonus.)
The 2 bonus tracks not on the original release don't quite fit in with the mood of the rest of the album, but are pleasant enough in their own right, but they don't really stand comparison with the quality of the preceding 5 tracks. Which is about the only thing wrong with this release. And why buy the Limited Edition version? Well, you get the funky sliding retro sleeve, so you can create you own psychedelic patterns with the dots as you listen to the music. Those Air boys think of everything!
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on 10 October 2002
Just for the record, this is a round up of tracks released on 12" before Moon Safari was recorded.
My (rather heavy) vinyl copy has only the first 5 tracks on it and yet... it's one of my favourite records of all time.
The sound is hard to describe - it's the sound of old, analogue machinery parping and wowing, it's got a lot of dubby bass and echo. It's just oh-so cool and gallic, it's that 60's feel that stereolab love, coloured lights, white walls, guys in black polo neck sweaters - you know...
The first and the last tracks of Moon Safari (can't remember what they're called just now) are in the same vein, if you'd like a more precise indication.
And the record has a lovely cover with faux-70's yellow and orange dots sliding through holes in the brown cover as you take it out. I love it.
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on 5 July 2009
Even though the French duo became known by the public at large after the 1998 release of their debut Moon Safari, a refreshing ambient electro-pop album that succeeded in uniting Anglo-saxon and continental influences (ranging from Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy, Bacharach and Mancini, Kraftwerk and Jean Jarré to Massive Attack and Kruder & Dorfmeister), they'd already been tinkering and refining their sound for a few years. Premiers Symptomes basically gathers the material that was released in the two years preceding Moon Safari, on different labels and for different occasions (some of this previously appeared on a label sampler). Even though there's a less song-oriented approach (in fact, it took me several listens to be able to distinguish these songs from one another), the seeds of the successful debut album are already here. There's a reliance on vintage keyboards (Moog, Rhodes, Korg, etc), while the soundtrack-styled, laidback vibe has more in common with the music of Broadcast, Stereolab and Massive Attack than most other French acts at the time, like Etienne de Crécy (who produced "Modular" and "Les Professionels") or Daft Punk. As such, the duo succeeds in fusing analogue and digital elements into a warm, fluffy blanket of sound - comfy keyboard sounds, serene beats, swaying basses and the occasional muffled horn - that's an aural delight. Since this music was (or seemed to be) more about vibe than anything else, you won't be focusing on structures, melodies and choruses, which aren't the core of the music to begin with. By result, the first five songs will glide by as if they're one extended composition, although the semi-legendary "Le Soleil Est Près de Moi" - easily recognisable because it's the only track featuring vocals - does offer the purest distillation of their approach. The final two songs (which are bonus tracks that were added to earlier editions), and especially "Brakes On," disrupt the mood and tempo a bit by offering a louder, more 'aggressive' style, but modern technology will undoubtedly offer a solution: SKIP!
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on 4 January 2000
If you bought Moon Safari as I did after listening to only a single track,and you were mysterious as to the remainder of the tracks on the album, and you were pleasantly impressed with the mellow style of AIR, you ain't gambling by purchasing this prequal. Yet again moody and pretty cool with one or two touches from the Moon Safari album. I think its a classic. Be warned what price you pay, its a mini album at only 7 tracks long. Other wise, fault less.
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on 11 February 2002
This album may be short, but all the better cause you can listen to it more often. This is a great album....GREAT!, and will put you in a real good mood when you listen to it. Its based on moon safari, so if you liked it, you'll love this. Check out 'Blue States' also!
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on 20 December 2001
Don't be afraid to put your hand in your pocket and dig out the dollars for this baby!
If you were dissapointed with the second album or frightened off by 'The Virgin Suicides' soundtrack then this is for you.
One word describes it to a 'T' - Beautiful.
I have both albums + virgin suicides but this tops them all as far as i'm concerned - very hard to put back in its box - my cd player will never be the same again.
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on 26 February 2005
This album is a great compilation of the bands first few E.P`s on the Source label. The band have never really managed to better these instrumental tracks- the production is spot on. Moon Safari may have taken them into the pop mainstream, but the pureness of their sound did suffer.
A must buy album for music lovers.
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