I'm sure if I had to write a review on air I'd find something wrong with that, too. It might go something like this: the air in the Rocky Mountains smells sweet and light, whereas New York City air in the summer time smells like liquid garbage and really bad body odor. I'm giving air an overall rating of 88.
Then I'd surely go on to review water and then soil.
But music, that's what I do:
Air- Pocket Symphony (Astralwerks, released 3/6/07)
When a great chef makes a new dish, do they do it because they love the labor that goes into the art of cooking, or do they do it to see their diner's reaction? Like two great cooks, Air's Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin serve up some new fare which can be described as silky and smooth, light and creamy, with just a hint of trip-hop-adelica. But mostly it's flaky and crisp around the edges, let's dive into the center, shall we?
As if there was anything else you'd expect from the masters of the chill out game, (I'll give them that title at least until Portishead gets back to us later this year...) Air comes at you with a subtle variety of textures- those sultry and always sexy female vocals, excellent production values a la Nigel Godrich (the "sixth" member of Radiohead), vocals from Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, new instruments (Godin learned how to play both the koto
It's a more relaxed, hushed album overall, playing very well in the wee hours of the morn after a night out of sensory-overloaded debauchery, serving to center one's mindset in a Zen-like quiesence. Acoustic guitars, Japanese strings, and much less beat heavy than previous contributions, the French duo happens upon a personal and pensive posture- the title implies that you can in fact bring this symphony along in your pocket, a prix fixe for the iPod set.
Highlights of this album include: Mer Du Japon (en francais), or Sea Of Japan
Space Maker, the opener, picks up exactly where Air left off on Talkie-Walkie- trip-hoppy beats over synth washes and acoustic guitars, with an excellent breakdown: a familiar and comfortable bass and piano line which leads directly into Once Upon A Time, a revolving and steady piano and cymbal hit, and lovely vocals before the drums enter: "I'm a little boy, you'e a little girl, once upon a time..." And Left Bank, another acoustically driven number with no drums, could pass itself off as an Elliott Smith song, and Somewhere Between Waking And Sleeping lends its dreamy melody to a latter-day Nick Drake psych-folk excursion.
The songs are here, the production is remarkable as always, and thematically Pocket Symphony sticks to its intended point, but (here comes the knock) this album will surely only serve in this capacity: the late night, chill-out, let's get ready for bed album. It's not an album I could listen to while driving, not an album for a late-afternoon pick me up. This is Air, and that's pretty much what they do, and do it so well, but how many albums do I need to bring me into slumberland? Where Moon Safari and Premiers Symptomes serve that purpose, I'd rather listen to those than this.
I also said I wasn't going to compare Pocket Symphony to the rest of their back catalog, seeing how this is basically a leitmotif of the sum and scope of Air's body of work, I'm only going to throw down an average score for this album.
Overall rating: 81
Minus The Bear
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