The rock star who moans about the pressures of fame presumably regards Air with an envious eye. With their debut album, 1998's Moon Safari, French duo Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin achieved an almost utopian kind of success. The album offered an innovative spin on then- unfashionable "ambient" music, bolstering its wafting synthesizers with influences drawn from easy listening and French pop.
Artistic development doesn't always improve an artist's work, as the members of Air discovered when their second album, 2001's 10,000 Hz Legend, disappointed fans and critics expecting another pop masterpiece to rank with their debut, Moon Safari. 10,000 Hz Legend buried the duo's clear melodic sense underneath an avalanche of rigid performances, claustrophobic productions, and a restless experimentalism that rarely allowed listeners to enjoy what they were hearing. Gone was the freshness evident on Moon Safari: the alien made familiar, the concept that electronic dance could be turned into a user-friendly medium, the illustration of simplicity and space as assets, not liabilities.
Air are a French, post-modern, electronic art-rock band that defy easy classification and have spent as much of their career honoring their influences as they have challenging them. Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicholas Godin’s debut album, Moon Safari, which was released way back in 1998, has aged gracefully without losing a drop of its elegance or sex appeal. Sophomore effort 10,000 Hz Legend has always been difficult.