Friday, July 13, 2012

Moon Safari - Air

Moon Safari - Air (1998)
Rating: 10
"All I need's a little time"
Best Song: Kelly Watch the Stars
Worst Song: You Make It Easy

        Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present to spaghetti western lounge jazz synth pop! Hooray! Seriously, this album pretty much defies all logic and explanation as it combines all of those aforementioned genres (and more) to create one of the most unique albums I've ever heard. Completely and utterly relaxing, Air's Moon Safari is quite the album. Air is a French electronica band that pretty much came out of nowhere with this, their debut album, in the late 90s. They're still going strong today! Imagine that. Anyway, let's take a look at this indescribable album, shall we?
        Called by many to be one of the greatest "chill-out" records of the 90s, Safari grabs you from track 1 and won't let you go till....track 6 or so. Yeah, that's my main beef with the album. It runs out of steam about halfway through. But, hey, that first half's really great, as is the last song, so it's totally worth getting. So yeah, I should probably start talking about individual songs, shouldn't I? Okay then. The album starts off with a nonexistent bang in "La femme d'argent", a song whose title I couldn't pronounce in a million years. Still though, it's got a FANTASTIC bass groove, which it proceeds to ride for about seven minutes as handclaps and synth lines are added in the background. But no, this isn't "On Some Faraway Beach" growth, I'm afraid. No, it's just a light, jazzy jaunt through outer space. But it's completely enjoyable. (Also, the phrase la femme d'argent translates into "the silver woman", in case you were wondering. Pretty fitting title, if'n you ask me.) 
        The calm, relaxing "La femme" then slowly fades out to make way for totally uncalm, unrelaxing "Sexy Boy". The harsh synth lines of "Boy" come completely out of nowhere and are actually rather unsettling, which is a pretty cool effect, actually. Anyway, "Sexy Boy" is essentially a sort of slow, industrial disco march (yeah, really) that might be just a minute too long and a hair too repetitive. Cut that minute off, though, and you're left with quite a song. "Sexy Boy" then goes into the totally soothing "All I Need" which features some actually decipherable lyrics (gasp!) along with an acoustic guitar-driven melody. The lady singing lead on this song does an absolutely wonderful job, as her voice is just as calming as the wonderful synth effects and acoustic guitar lines are. At one point, all the instruments completely disappear, and you're essentially left weightless for a couple of seconds. Breathtaking.
        And now we come to what is my favorite song on the record, that's right, it's "Kelly Watch the Stars"! It's essentially the only "pure pop" song on here, and it's completely irresistible. From the great vocoderized chants of "Kelly, watch the stars!", to the neat-o whiz bang laser beam sound effects, to the GORGEOUS cascading piano notes, to the amazing theremin lines, to the fantastic drumming in that one "breakdown" section, to...I think you get the idea. Deceptively simple and impressively beautiful, if there's one reason to own this album -- this is it. Then we have yet another goody, the swooning "Talisman". It starts out like a sort of lounge jazz piece but eventually turns into an epic, Encio Morricone-esque spaghetti western epic. Yes, it's amazing. And yes, like everything else on here, it's beautiful.
        Then there's "Remember", which is sort of like a poor man's version of "Kelly Watch the Stars". Oh sure, it's still a great song, but it just doesn't grab me the way that "Kelly" does. Also, it's incredibly repetitive, and the pattern really doesn't change much from time to time, (again) unlike "Kelly". Following "Remember" is yet another song that's strongly reminiscent of a previous song -- "You Make It Easy". It's essentially a less mesmerizing version of "All I Need". It's still pleasant, though, so it's not a total loss.
        "Ce matin-la"(translation: "that morning") perfectly fits the title, as it's essentially a beautiful sunrise set to music. "Ce" also marks the track where Air finally fully gives into their jazz leanings by bringing in an entire horn section, which sounds great. Next up is the mellow, downtempo "New Star In the Sky" which actually features what sounds like a vocoderized harmonica. Yes. You read that right. It's very dreamy sounding and completely relaxing. Sure, it's a bit boring and overlong, but this is indeed a "chill out" album, isn't it?
        The album comes to a close with the epic "Le voyage de Penelope" (translation: "Penelope's journey). It has a rather dark feel to it and is rather intense...well, as intense as this sort of music can get. Loads of cool synthesized horn sound effects and neat little synth lines blip and bloop along the musical landscape, and it's really a cool song, as well as a great finisher.
        So should you buy it? Sure, yeah! Is it an all-time classic? Nah, but it's close enough to get an "10" from me, and remember, any album 10 or above is highly recommended. It may get a  little repetitive at times, but overall it's a very rewarding experience. So just turn on, tune in, and chill out to the sweet sounds of Air's Moon Safari! (Just call me Reagan Leary)

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