1. La Femme d'Argent [7:08]
  2. Sexy Boy [4:57]
  3. All I Need [4:28]
  4. Kelly Watch The Stars [3:44]
  5. Talisman [4:16]
  6. Remember [2:34]
  7. You Make It Easy [4:00]
  8. Ce Matin La [3:38]
  9. New Star In The Sky [5:38]
  10. Le Voyage De Penelope [3:10]
French duo Air 's (Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel) debut album. Released by Virgin to instant acclaim in January 1998, "Moon Safari" marks the debut album by Paris-based duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel after the short singles-collection "Premiers Symptomes" the year before. The clever timing of the release in the relatively quiet period at the start of the year (a trick which Virgin tried again less successfully a year later with Cassius) plus the fact that it was somehow made out to be a dance-album immediately got "Moon Safari" rave reviews. Don't be put off by that dance label though (one of the smartest and, after actually hearing the album, more idiotic marketing-tricks of late) because this is instantly recognisable as a real gem in the Electronic Music field.
The two musicians are clearly of the analog school and use a variety of old synthesizers (among which Mini-Moog, Korg and vocoders) plus some acoustic instruments like a Wurlitzer organ. Nicolas Godin also plays great bass and various guitar parts and Beth Hirsch joins the fun by singing two great songs. Indeed, the fun that's gone into it manifests itself strongly and through it, they achieve the rare feat of creating a real feel-good atmosphere while still being musically interesting.
There's a bit of typically French easy-tuniness to the pieces but their arrangements and unexpected harmonic turns have evidently been given a lot of attention. The album as a whole makes for a great 45-minute aural trip, starting off with the jazzy 'La Femme d'Argent' having a great organ solo, continuing with the dramatic first single 'Sexy Boy' through to 'Le Voyage De Penelope' with a genius far-off piano intro. Along the way, listen to plenty of sun-filled tracks tinged with melancholy without ever becoming sad.
The stylistic picture that emerges from the music and booklet is strangely advanced and retro at the same time. They appear as characters out of some sixties French SF-cartoon beaming their musical message across to the future or something like that. The strong production, warm natural sound and the few expertly placed dance-rhythms very much belong to the nineties but the vocoder-voices we already know from Kraftwerk and YMO. Judging from "Metamorphoses", Jean-Michel Jarre seems to have picked up on this too and in fact, fans of his music will in all likelihood appreciate Air as well (for example, the intro to the dreamy 'You Make It Easy' comes straight from "Oxygene"). But Air are not really derivative in any way and have clearly managed to go through the painstaking process of creating their very own world of sounds.

2000. Ivar de Vries French duo Air's debut album is a superlatively happy collection of experimental disco-mood sound nestled between ambient soundscape and breathy pop.
It's jazzy and melodic, and mostly laid-back, but not excessively so. There are a few shake-it, shake-it numbers, too, like the absurdly daft hit "Sexy Boy".
It's snap your fingers and hang out (while reading) music or dance around sexy-slow with your mate music. It's also the perfect music to do your ironing or some other chore to; it's hypnotizing wallpaper music. It slips in and out of your consciousness, forcing you to move around with a relaxed smile before you even realize it.
Oh, and contrary to sampler fashion, Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel played the instruments themselves.
Bravo.

2001. Mike McGonigal