Air, is the French duo who have been steadily releasing exceptional recordings since 1995. Best known for the electronica-infused 1998 release “Moon Safari“, which spawned the single “Sexy Boy”, their work has been featured in the films “Virgin Suicides”, and “Lost in Translation” among others. Their brand of electronic music has been inspired by and could be compared to several synthesizer-driven brands of “space rock” and pop including Jean Michael Jarre, Tangerine Dream and even Pink Floyd. Their live shows transcend the studio recordings and emphasize psychedelic jams such as “Don’t be Light” from 2001’s “10 000 HZ Legend“.
After a 3 year hiatus, Air returned to the bay area to back their 2009 release “Love 2“. Now touring as a trio on keyboards, bass, and drum, they delivered another superior live performance for a packed house at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA. From early lounge tracks such as “La Femme d’Argent” to the current vocoder-driven track “Love” they alternated between electronica, space, and pop influences keeping the set tight and powerful and very different from most bands from the last dozen years.
For many who may have heard early recordings by this duo, their more recent albums and live experience would come as a pleasant surprise. Any fears that the show might be too languid or dull would be shattered by the reality that this band stages very compelling concerts. Air is carrying the torch of quality music today and is highly recommended.
How many adjectives does it take to describe a band’s sound? Defining the sound of instrumental band Ozric Tentacles could take a couple dozen, but might best be summarized as “psychedelic-hippy-jam-trance-reggae-space-rock.” More to the point, listening to a track from the 2000 release “The Hidden Step,” my son Aidan described them as “Arabian porn music!” In reality, the Ozrics mix jazz-fusion, reggae/dub, and space-rock forms with eastern flavored trance/ambient, sequencers and sound effects, creating a unique brew that is truly their own. Listen to the track “Sunhair” from 1993’s “Jurassic Shift” and you will know instantly if this music is for you. If it is, you will find more than 25 varied and rewarding album releases to explore.
Last Wednesday night, May 27, 2009 at the Independent, founding member guitarist-synth player Ed Wynne led what is now a four piece band through a cosmic three hour set. The set list included several earlier tracks, such as “Saucers” from 1991’s “Stangeitude” (a personal favorite) which Ed played on acoustic guitar. These identifiable tracks were needed to balance the more jam-band oriented excursions, and I would have preferred more of them, particularly in the second half of the show. During many of these segments the keyboards were too far back in the mix, robbing the sound of some of the more trance-inspired bits. Still it was an amazing set, and very effectively showcased new material from 2009’s superb “The Yum Yum Tree“.