Skip to main content
Select Source:

Air

Air

Pop duo

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Although Airthe diverse electronic French duo of Nicolas Godin, a former architect, and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, a mathematicianare associated with an emerging ambient-dance scene in France for their combining of open-ended pop forms with atmospheric effects, their music stands apart from typical electronica. One might assume that Dunckel and Godin rely heavily on sampling and other high-tech devices because of their connection to the genre, but in reality, the pair prefer to play their own instruments. We liked playing instruments, you know, its a pleasure, Godin said, as quoted by the MTV website. Its a chance to make a record and to hear me playing the piano or the guitar, and I could say to my children later, hey, look here, its me, Im playing. So I dont understand why I should program what I play, because, when I wake up in the morning the first thing Im doing is playing the piano.

Another noble characteristic of Air is their insistence on not duplicating instrumentation or sounds presented in previous work. For example, with their pivotal 1998 album Moon Safari, the duo provided the tracks with a retro feel through the use of mini-Moog and vocoder, while the romantic themes of space travel and stargazing gave the recording a futuristic sense. Moving forward to 2001s 10,000 Hz Legend, a computerized, space-age set exploring vacant pop culture, Godin and Dunckel introduced flutes and gentle rhythms into their repertoire. As former Redd Kross drummer Brian Re-itzell, who joins Air for live shows, recorded with the duo their score for the Virgin Suicides film soundtrack, and worked in the studio on 10,000 Hz Legend, told Corey Moss of Sonicnet.com: With Moon Safari, they use a lot of vocoder and Fender Rhodes [keyboards], and when they did the score they wanted to explore other instruments. Theyre constantly reinventing themselves.

Dunckel and Godin, both originally from Versailles, France, first united musically while attending university in Paris. At the time, in the early 1990s, Dunckel, a mathematician and teacher, was already a member of the independent rock group Orange with producer Alex Gopher (born Alex Latrobe), who introduced Godin, an architect, to the band. Soon, Godin accepted an offer to join Orange. The trio played together as Orange until the mid 1990s, when Gopher left to begin producing for the influential Paris-based dance music labels Source and Solid; he also released material as a solo artist. Meanwhile, Dunckel and Godin, after a period of concentrating on their respective studies, morphed into Air in 1995.

Upon reuniting, Dunckel and Godin began forging a new electronic direction different from their experiences with Orange. Their trademark would soon become what the press dubbed ambient-kitsch electric French pop. Also in 1995, the duo signed with Source, a Virgin Records offshoot label based in Paris, and released a handful of singles for both Source and Mo Wax, another Paris label. Later that year, in November, Air released their first Modular Mix EP for Source.

In July of 1996, Air released a second EP on Source called Casanova 70, followed in August by a second Modular Mix EP for Mo Wax. Their next EP, Le Soleil est Pres de Moi, surfaced in November of 1997 on Source. Previous to this record, though, a cumulative album of their four EPs arrived in July of 1997. Issued by Source under the title Premiers Symptomes, the record brought Air to the attention of Europes most prominent DJs, leading to remixing opportunities for the likes of Depeche Mode and Neneh Cherry. Some sources, however, claim that Godin and Dunckel have since disowned their earlier work compiled on Premiers Symptomes. Overall, though, critics received the record favorably, but some nonetheless called the songs a little hesitant and underdeveloped. Still, it was a substantial beginning and offered plenty to admire.

When it came time to record a proper debut album, Godin and Dunckel retreated to an abandoned, eighteenth-century chateau located just outside Paris. Here, on an eight-track console, the duo recorded and produced ten songs of new material. The result, 1998s Moon Safari, proved a striking mixture of dance loops and jazzy pop melodies that moved from instrumentals to effortless techno-pop. The album and subsequent tour across Europe and the United States propelled Air to international stardom. In the United Kingdom, the set reached number five on the charts, and the singles

For the Record

Members include Jean-Benoit Dunckel, keyboards, piano, clavinet, synthesizer; Nicolas Godin , bass, guitar, vocoder, percussion.

Formed in Paris, France, 1995; released Moon Safari, 1998; composed original score for the 2000 film The Virgin Suicides; released 10,000 Hz Legend, 2001.

Addresses: Record company Astralwerks, 104 W. 29th St., 4th Fl., New York, NY 10001, phone: (212) 989-2929, fax: (212) 643-5573, website: http://www.astralwerks.com

Sexy Boy, Kelly Watch the Stars, and All I Need, featuring vocals by Godin and Beth Hirsch, an American singer based in Paris, all became hits. At the end of the year, Moon Safari appeared on several best of lists; Select magazine as well as Muzik named it the number one album of the year, the Oakland Tribune ranked the album at number seven, and the Chicago Tribune listed Moon Safari at number ten.

In 1999, after both Dunckel and Godin became fathers within one week of each other (Dunckel had a girl and Godin a boy), Air set out on their next project composing the original score for the film The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sophia Coppola and based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides. According to Dunckel, Coppola was a big fan of Moon Safari and knew Mike Mills, who directed videos for Air and provided all their artwork. Dunckel and Godin, who always wanted to work on a soundtrack, jumped on the opportunity to try something new. Were big fans of soundtracksthey were my first introduction to classical music, said Dunckel in an interview for Uncut magazine. I like pop songs too, of course, but here you can use more strings, and have a theme you return to. The album soundtrack, released in February of 2000 on the American label Astralwerks and on Virgin overseas, further solidified Airs reputation, and the first single from the record, Playground Love, received wide airplay in both Europe and the States.

Staying true to their rule about not re-using instruments or past ideas, Air spent much of 2000 working on their follow-up to Moon Safari. Its very different from Moon Safari and nothing like the soundtrack, commented Reitzell about 10,000 Hz Legend, a masterpiece, hailed the drummer. The Virgin Suicides score was Air working incredibly quickly. There werent a lot of arrangements. This new record, every song is a contained work of art. But every song is a song. Theres no art damage. The sublime, expansive, and intoxicating album, released in May of 2001 on Astralwerks in the United States, also enjoyed critical acclaim, as reviewers compared their journeys into psychedelic panoramas to that of Pink Floyd, Gong, Can, and post-rock groups like Oval, Tortoise, and Radiohead. Notable tracks from the eleven-song set included Radian, Electric Performers, People in the City, Dont Be Light, and The Vagabond, with a guest appearance by the abstract funk-rock superstar Beck.

Selected discography

Singles and EPs

Modular Mix (EP), Source, 1995.

Casanova 70 (EP), Source, 1996.

Modular Mix (EP), MoWax, 1996.

Le Soleil est Pres de Moi (EP), 1997.

Sexy Boy, Source/Virgin, 1998.

Kelly, Watch the Stars, Source/Virgin, 1998.

All I Need, Virgin, 1998.

Playground Love, Virgin, 2000.

Albums

Premiers Symptomes, Source/Virgin, July 1997; reissued, Virgin, 1999.

Moon Safari, Source/Virgin, 1998.

The Virgin Suicides, Virgin, 2000.

10,000 Hz Legend,Astralwerks, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Uncut, April 2000.

Online

The Biggest Air Site Online, http://www.airfrenchband.co.uk (May 17, 2001).

MTV, http://www.mtv.com (May 17, 2001).

The Raft, http://www.theraft.com (May 17, 2001).

Sonicnet, http://www.sonicnet.com (May 17, 2001).

Yahoo! Music, http://musicfinder.yahoo.com (May 17, 2001).

Laura Hightower

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Air." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Air." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/air

"Air." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/air

Air

AIR

Formed: 1995, Versailles, France

Members: Jean-Benoît Dunckel, Rhodes piano, organ (born Versailles, France, 7 September 1969); Nicolas Godin, bass, mini-Moog, tambourine (born Paris, France, 25 December 1969).

Genre: Electronica

Best-selling album since 1990: Moon Safari (1998)

Hit songs since 1990: "Sexy Boy," "Playground Love"

The French duo Air, composed of a former architect, Nicolas Godin, and a mathematician, Jean-Benoît Dunckel, are closely associated with the ambient-electronica dance music trend of the mid- to late 1990s. Air's innovative music often combines moody vocals in French and English, atmospheric keyboard flourishes, and elements of jazz. Ironically, given the band's nomenclature, Air grounds an otherwise lofty and airy music form by playing its own instruments and using programmed samples, loops, and effects. The approach makes it part of a growing movement in electronica music, rooted in the 1990s, in which bands employ both organic and synthetic musical effects. The British trip-hop groups Morcheeba, Massive Attack, and Portishead exemplify this trend.

Dunckel and Godin, both originally from Versailles, France, met at university in Paris. In the early 1990s Dunckel played with the band Orange and was introduced to Godin through Alex Gopher, the other member of Orange. Godin joined Orange, and the three formed a trio that lasted until the mid-1990s, when Gopher decided to leave the band and produce music for the Paris-based dance labels Source and Solid. Godin and Dunckel teamed up to form Air in 1995, creating what the press called "ambient-kitsch electric French pop," a clumsy but effective description of the group's sound.

After some forays into recording, including the EPs Modular Mix for Source (1995) and Casanova '70 (1996), Air eventually released four EPs under the album title Premiers Symptomes ; that work helped the duo gain the attention of French and European DJs. For their first full-length album, Moon Safari (1998), the pair recorded in an eighteenth-century chateau outside Paris. The album features mini-Moog keyboards, the warm vibey feel of Rhodes keyboard, and ethereal strings to back up songs that are sung in a mix of French and English, often meander for five minutes or more, and tend toward the instrumental. The title track is tinged with hand claps, Rhodes' keyboard, and splashes of keyboard noise; "La Femme D'Argent" is a laid-back, jazzy, space-age, improvisational jam; the instrumental "Ce Matin La" features Burt Bacharachlike trumpets and acoustic guitar. The single "Sexy Boy" features an equally spacey mini-Moog, guitar, drums, and minimal lyrics that alternate between French and English.

Air released several albums after Moon Safari, including its unofficial follow-up, the haunting soundtrack to the film The Virgin Suicides (2000). Thanks to the precision of its music, with its signature loops, esoteric instrumentation, and experimental jazz, Air carved out a unique niche in the 1990s.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Premiers Symptomes (Source/Virgin, 1997; reissued Virgin, 1999); Moon Safari (Source/Virgin, 1998); The Virgin Suicides (Virgin, 2000); 10,000 Hz Legend (Astralwerks, 2000); Everybody Hertz (Astralwerks, 2002).

carrie havranek

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Air." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Air." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air

"Air." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air

air

air / e(ə)r/ • n. 1. the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen. ∎  this substance regarded as necessary for breathing: get some fresh air. ∎  the free or unconfined space above the surface of the earth: he tossed his hat high in the air. ∎  [as adj.] used to indicate that something involves the use of aircraft: air travel. ∎  the earth's atmosphere as a medium for transmitting radio waves: they've sold products over the air. ∎  air considered as one of the four elements in ancient philosophy and in astrology (associated with the signs of Gemini, Aquarius, and Libra). ∎  a breeze or light wind. See also light air. ∎  air conditioning. ∎  a jump off the ground on a snowboard. 2. (air of) an impression of a quality or manner given by someone or something: she answered with a faint air of boredom. ∎  (airs) an annoyingly affected and condescending manner: he began to put on airs and boss us around. 3. Mus. a tune or short melodious composition, typically a song. • v. 1. [tr.] (often be aired) express (an opinion or grievance) publicly: long-standing grievances were aired. ∎  broadcast (a program) on radio or television. 2. [tr.] expose (a room) to the open air in order to ventilate it. PHRASES: by air in an aircraft: all goods must come in by air. in the air noticeable all around; becoming prevalent: I smell violence in the air. on (or off) the air being (or not being) broadcast on radio or television. up in the air (of a plan or issue) still to be settled; unresolved. walk on air feel elated.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-1

"air." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-1

air

air
A. atmosphere XIII;

B. appearance, manner XVI;

C. melody, tune XVI. prop. three words, but, as in F., the earliest has absorbed the others. In A, ME. eir, air — (O)F. air — L. āēr, āer — Gr. ā́ēr. In B, — F. air (XVI), prob. repr. OF. aire place, race, quality (cf. DEBONAIR); see EYRIE. In C, like later F. air (XVII), repr. It. aria, orig. :- L. (Gr.) āera, acc. of āēr, but later infl. by OF. aire.
Hence air vb. XVI. airy XIV (cf. AERY).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-2

"air." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-2

Air

12. Air

  1. Aeolus god of the winds. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 9]
  2. Aether god of whole atmosphere. [Gk. Myth.: Jobes, 42]
  3. Aurae winged nymphs of breezes. [Rom. Myth.: LLEI, I: 323]
  4. Juno in allegories of elements, personification of air. [Art: Hall, 128]
  5. sylph spirit inhabiting atmosphere in Rosicrucian philosophy. [Medieval Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1055]

Alarm (See WARNING .)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Air." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Air." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-0

"Air." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-0

air

air regarded as one of the four elements in ancient and medieval philosophy and in astrology (it is considered essential to the nature of the signs of Gemini, Aquarius, and Libra).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air

"air." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air

air

air.
1. Melody.

2. Comp. of melodious character. See also aria and ayre.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air

"air." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air

air

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/air

"air." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/air

air

air Gases above the Earth's surface. See atmosphere

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/air

"air." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/air

air

airaffair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"air." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"air." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-0

"air." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/air-0