AIR – ELECTRONIC PERFORMERS Image

AIR – ELECTRONIC PERFORMERS

By Admin | February 15, 2004

In the era of 5-disc Ultimate Platinum Limited Special Edition DVDs, it seems fitting for many new CDs to now come equipped with similar bells and whistles. Sometimes, these extra features are worthwhile, the bonus CD and DVD that accompanied U2’s “Best of: 1990 – 2000” release, for example. Sometimes however, these extras are more like an excuse to jack-up the already inflated price tags by a few bucks. Marilyn Manson’s stupendously awful short film “Doppelherz”, which came as part of his most recent album (something “Grotesque”), comes to mind. But never has a bonus feature on an album been more welcome than Air’s “Electronic Performers”, a 35-minute concert/backstage film on DVD that complements their third full release, “Talkie Walkie”. Fans of the sublime French duo will not be disappointed by this artfully produced mini-chronicle of their 2002 tour. For those of us who missed them the last few times they toured the states, consider this a preview of their upcoming spring tour.

For those living under a rock for the past seven years, Air is a twosome consisting of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel that specializes in gloriously groovy ear candy. Their unique sound is a sparkling fusion of space-age pop, chilling electronica, innovative prog-rock, romantic innocence, and enigmatic vocals. This sound first gained world-wide acclaim, not to mention an eternal audience, in 1998, when they released their classic debut album, “Moon Safari”, a damn near perfect testament of aural bliss. The two then brought their trademark sound to the sweetly nostalgic soundtrack to Sophia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides.” In the following year, the duo confounded critics by releasing its challenging, utterly bizarre follow-up, “10,000 Hz Legend.” These critics, perhaps expecting a “Moon Safari Redux”, too quickly dismissed an outlandishly inventive record almost as good as its predecessor. One thing we all agreed on at least was that Air wasn’t content with merely chilling us out. Their just-released third album, the Nigel Godrich-produced “Talkie Walkie”, is further proof of this. Like their best work, its an assured and beautiful soundtrack to that movie inside your head. Rolling Stone even summed it up as “make-out music from outer space.” But as with any great music, fancy words alone can’t do it justice. Air needs to be heard, and apparently seen if “Electronic Performers” is any indication, to be fully appreciated.

This too-brief tour diary consists of five performances of some of the band’s best songs, as well as playful backstage antics of the duo and their touring musicians (Brian Reitzell – drums, Jason Falkner – bass, and James Rotondi – keyboards). The opening piece, “Legend’s” “Electronic Performers”, immediately sets the stage for a nouveau-Pink Floyd experience of trippy lights and special effects. In a creepy, robotic monotone, Dunckel proclaims, “We are electronic performers. We are electronics!” The initially chilly tone is considerably warmed up however, when these self-professed electronic musicians groove out with the lushly cinematic melodies of “Talisman”, “Don’t Be Light”, and “People In the City”. Between these pieces, director Bruno Dunckel shows us the musicians playing videogames, signing autographs, prepping to play, and lounging about in a way only the French can make look cool. The film is brought to a stunning, heady climax with an exhilarating rendition of “Moon Safari’s” opening track, “La Femme D’Argent”. If you’re at all familiar with Air’s recorded music, which features a veritable galaxy of strange sounds and effects, you might be dubious about the quality of a live performance. Yet “Electronic Performers” deftly showcases an actual live band and not just a couple of studio wizards. If Air wants to be the next Pink Floyd, this film assures us they could. It’s an exceptional piece of work and not bad at all for a bonus feature.

So, how does it make you feel? Well, just like you’re floating on…

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