February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Talkie Walkie

Like their namesake, the music of French duo Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin is light and delicate — you sometimes forget it’s even there.

Call it wallpaper music or a more sophisticated, chill-out version of elevator music, either way, the fluffy electronic tinkering of Air are just too sublime to ignore.

This is the epitome of “pretty” music and its fragility was not ignored by director Sofia Coppola when she included the boys’ “Alone in Kyoto” on the soundtrack to her film Lost in Translation. The stark and mysterious track also appears on the duo’s new disc Talkie Walkie, which, like Translation, situates its subjects in foreign and desolate lands. It’s a similar blueprint to their most lauded disc, 1998’s Moon Safari; a musical postcard from outer space.

On Talkie Walkie, the galactic motif continues: twinkling synths conjure up a star-dotted sky in the down-tempo “Venus,” a valentine between lovers from distant planets; pitter-patter rhythms in “Universal Traveler” emulate the pulse of a space station, and “Surfing on a Rocket” continues the daydream of doing Earthling activities somewhere out of this world.

But the thing about daydreams is that they either rarely materialize or are quickly forgotten; they’re ideal fantasies most people tend to dismiss as temporary escapes. With Talkie Walkie, Air makes it difficult to escape this escape. Dunckel and Godin are our designated audio astronauts, taking that one giant step into strange sonic atmospheres.

—Brian Wong



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