Air is a French music duo from Versailles, consisting of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. Their critically acclaimed debut album, Moon Safari, including the track "Sexy Boy", was an international success in 1998. Its follow-up, The Virgin Suicides, was the score to Sofia Coppola's first movie of the same name. The band has since released the albums 10 000 Hz Legend, Talkie Walkie, Pocket Symphony, Love 2, Le voyage dans la lune and Music for Museum. The band is influenced by a wide variety of musical styles and artists.
Nicolas Godin studied architecture at the École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Versailles, and Jean-Benoît Dunckel studied mathematics, before forming a band in 1995. Before founding Air (erroneously considered as an acronym of Amour, Imagination, Rêve, which translates to Love, Imagination, Dream), Dunckel and Godin played together in the band Orange with others such as Alex Gopher, Xavier Jamaux and Jean de Reydellet. The former two subsequently contributed to remixes of tracks recorded by Air.
Initially Godin worked alone, recording a demo with members of Funkadelic as his backing band before releasing his first entirely solo effort, "Modular Mix", which featured production by Étienne de Crécy.
After making several remixes for other acts in the first half of the 1990s, Air recorded its first EP, Premiers Symptômes, in 1995. The band released its first album, Moon Safari, in 1998. Its first single, "Sexy Boy", was heavily played on alternative radio stations. The album received universal acclaim and became an international success. In 1999, Air composed the score The Virgin Suicides to Sofia Coppola's debut film of the same name; in 2012, Air wrote its second score to Georges Méliès' Le voyage dans la lune.
Air has often collaborated with Coppola. Air drummer and former Redd Kross member Brian Reitzell put together the soundtrack to 2003's Lost in Translation, including one original contribution by Air titled "Alone in Kyoto". The soundtrack for Coppola's October 2006 film Marie Antoinette featured a track by Air ("Il Secondo Giorno"). Air wrote and played the music of the album 5:55 by Anglo-French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, which was released in August 2006. Air has recorded a DJ mix album, Late Night Tales: Air, for Azuli Records' Late Night Tales series. The release was initially scheduled for October 2005, but was delayed several times. It finally was released, complete with a new sleeve design, in September 2006. Darkel, a solo album by Dunckel, was released that same year.
City Reading (Tre Storie Western) (2003) started as an idea for a collaboration with contemporary Italian writer Alessandro Baricco, known for his unusual characterizations and lyrical, poetic style. Baricco contacted Air in summer 2002 with the idea to marry narration of texts from his book City with live original musical accompaniment. The performance premiered live in November 2002 at Rome's Teatro Valle and was deemed such a success that both parties resolved to make a full studio recording.
Influences and musical style
Air is associated with a variety of musical styles: electronica, space pop, dream pop, progressive rock, downtempo, chillout, trip hop, ambient, electronic pop and space rock. Dunckel grew up listening to both classical and electronic music, especially Kraftwerk. He later took an interest in what he called the "English dark rock" of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division, while being a fan of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Brian Eno and Cluster were two of the electronic acts who inspired him the most. He cites among his favorite artists: Maurice Ravel for classical music, François de Roubaix for music soundtracks and Siouxsie and the Banshees for pop music. Dunckel shared with Godin a special liking for the music of Michel Legrand, Philip Glass and Grace Jones. During his childhood, Godin was fascinated by the Beatles before later discovering the soul of Sly and the Family Stone. The duo were influenced by progressive rock pioneers Pink Floyd.
Air uses many of its studio instruments (like Moog synthesizers, the Korg MS-20, Wurlitzer and Vocoder) on stage, where their ability to improvise is more clearly highlighted. The band performs the well-known tracks from the albums live as extended or altered versions. Air often collaborates (both in the studio and live) with artists like Beth Hirsch (Moon Safari), Françoise Hardy ("Jeanne"), Jean-Jacques Perrey ("Cosmic Bird"), Gordon Tracks ("Playground Love" and "Easy Going Woman" – Gordon Tracks is a pseudonym of the French singer Thomas Mars from Phoenix), Beck (10 000 Hz Legend) and Jean-Michel Jarre ("Close Your Eyes" from Jarre's Electronica 1: The Time Machine). They also invited Dave Palmer on their 2004 tour and drummer Earl Harvin, Vincent Taurelle and Steve Jones on their 2007 tour.
Premiers Symptômes (1997)
City Reading (Tre Storie Western) (2003)
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Air was a jazz trio with its roots steeped in Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and was formed originally in 1971. The jazz trio Air formed from within the Muhal Richard Abrams Sextet, which was active on the Chicago scene contemporaneously with the birth and growth of the AACM and groups such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Henry Threadgill on reeds, hubcaphone, and percussion; Fred Hopkins on bass, and Steve McCall on drums formed the trio when Threadgill was commissioned by Columbia College to score and adapt Scott Joplin's work for a performance honoring Joplin's centenary (Joplin's birth has been established now as sometime in 1868) and a rebirth of interest in the noted ragtime composer. All three men were Air signs in the zodiac, and so adopted the name.
They performed first around Chicago, while maintaining residency with Muhal Abrams group, which also featured Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre and Wallace McMillan, both reed players. The Air "brand" remained a side project until all three reunited in New York in 1975, and began recording under that name for India Navigation, Nessa, Black Saint, and Novus. The trio broke up when Steve McCall left in the early 1980s, and when Pheroan Aklaff joined in 1982, they recorded as New Air, and recorded several albums under that name, including Air Show No. 1 in 1986, which featured Cassandra Wilson on vocals. Andrew Cyrille ultimately replaced akLaff before the band eventually was superceded by the burgeoning careers of its members: Threadgill with his groups Sextett and Very Very Circus, and Hopkins as the go-to bassist for Threadgill, David Murray, and Hamiet Bluiett. McCall's health forced his retirement from touring around 1980, and the dynamic drummer and effusive and gracious man who was a cofounder of the AACM with Muhal Abrams and Fred Anderson, died of a stroke in 1989.
This Air is listed as Air (4) on Discogs and is also been identified on last.fm as Air (Fred Hopkins, Steve McCall, Henry Threadgill) and Air with Fred Hopkins, Steve Mccall, Henry Threadgill (sic: McCall's name misspelt), and possibly also other alternative spellings of the group's name exist.
Air was a psychedelic folk rock band featuring Googie and Tom Coppola, John Siegler and Mark Rosengarden. They released their first self titled album in 1971.