A Confident and Cool Return
The burden of expectation can creatively cripple an artist. J.D. Salinger and Truman Capote would agree. Nicolas Godin and Jean-BenoâˆšÃ†t Dunckel, better known as Air, have been victims of such in the decade since Moon Safari unleashed their smooth, sultry sounds in a feat of true perfection. After 10,000 Hz Legend was declared dead on arrival, Talkie Walkie felt like an apology despite its quality. Enter 2007’s Pocket Symphony, an effort immediately classifiable as in the shadow of past triumphs, but further examination reveals something interesting afoot.Space Maker opens the album with a rhythmic clicking pattern akin to an alien language in an intergalactic transmission. From there, a cornucopia of pianos, synths and organs orbit a relaxed acoustic guitar strum that will comfort those hoping for another Moon Safari. Familiarity reignites in the closer, “Night Sight” as well with its twinkling organ engulfed in heavenly strings with only a sparse bass chord to give it a real pulse.
The story here lies in the ten tracks in between. Pianos propel the album along from the spiraling “Once Upon A Time” to the pensive “Mayfair Song” and the hard drivingly hypnotic “Mer du Japon.” The piano in the foreground gives Pocket Symphony the feel of an exercise in a sketchbook, like Dunckel and Godin are building towards something in the future. That these melancholy, introspective melodies bathed in sensuous, brooding atmospherics sound complete defines true artistry. The majority of lyrics within feel like accessories to a grand design when delivered preciously by Dunckel. “One Hell of A Party,” sung by Jarvis Cocker, is a clear exception that plays like a dreary walk home as the sun comes up following a sleepless night of decadence.
Familiar as this may sound for Air fans, Pocket Symphony‘s choice of a single instrument rather than sonic arrangement at the center shows that this duo are looking to diversify their chilled out world. Not since their B-sides compilation Premiers Symptomes have they sounded so confident in doing so.