Release Date: 07.20.99
Record label: source / astralwerks
The Early Years
by: bill aicher
Last year marked an enormous step forward in the realm of electronic music. Air released their critically acclaimed album Moon Safari, and the world was introduced to a musical experience like no other. This album took the listener to places never before imagined, to an inner place where one could soar above clouds or swim infinite oceans. Premiers Symptomes, a collection of early singles by Air, is the travel brochure.
Before Moon Safari, Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel (the members of Air), recorded a variety of singles in their home studio. They had no major label and they had no major following. This was a series of experiments in the world of mind-expanding music. From this collection of seven early singles we can get an idea of where they began and how the music has evolved.Perhaps the best example is "Les Professionales," where the theme later evolved on Moon Safari into "All I Need," featuring Beth Hirsch on vocals. Musically, Premiers Symptomes is much simpler than Moon Safari. The music is less layered, and themes are sometimes repeated a bit too long. Vocals and voice effects are absent on all but two tracks, and are in French. The music on here is Air in its simplest form, but sometimes beauty is best expressed through simplicity.
Air take from their signature artistic pallette on this album. Their soundscapes of keyboards, bass, electric piano, synth-trombone, and more create a visual sensation through music. This is still definitely music that can take one to another level of existence. "Casanova 70" is an imagined soundtrack to a French film of the same name, while "Gordini Mix - Brakes on Mix" is an all-out jam-session that even samples the Beatles - more upbeat than anything else by the duo. For those who have not yet heard last year's Moon Safari, you may want to check that one out first. It is still by far the more superior album. However, for those who are fans of the artistic beauty Air creates through their music, Premiers Symptomes is definite must-have.
Despite the fact that it is not their most intricate music, it is still plenty to hold one over until The Virgin Suicides, Sophia Coppola's directing debut which features an all-new soundtrack by Air. So long as I let Air take me places until then, I can still say "J'ai Dormi Sous L'eau" ("I Have Slept Underwater") and "Le Soleil est Pres de Moi" ("The Sun is Close to Me") without fear of drowning or of burning my wings. 08-Sept-1999 10:00 PM