Title: Moon Safari
Label: Source (Virgin)
Catalogue Number: V2848
Year of Release: 1998
Things I've learnt whilst reviewing this record:
1) New Words in French
To give you an idea of the pretentiousness of these lovely French chaps, they distinguish, in the sleeve-notes (see picture above, furthest right) between 'hand claps' and 'frottements de mains', or, the rubbing together of hands. There's an Old French word frotter meaning to rub, and it's where our word 'frottage' comes from (so to speak).
The French for 'Choruses' is the almost perfectly anagrammatical 'Choeurs'. I'm assuming that is listed separately to a vocal or 'chant' (I already knew that word) credit, as one guys does the choruses, and one the verses, or something.
'Syrinx', which for no good reason I thought would be Theremin, is in fact, the detestable pan-pipe. Having listened to the tracks with Syrinx in the credits though, either babel fish is wrong (quite likely), or they kept them well down in the mix, for which let us all be thankful.
2) No one can remember the instrumentals.
In my extensive research, people have looked at the tracklisting and said things like, "'Kelly Watch the Stars'? Is that the one that goes [sings] Kelly Watch the StaaAAaars". Or even, "'Sexy Boy'? Isn't that the one that goes [sings] oooo, Sexy Booooyyyy". The answer to both questions is affirmative. But who knows or remembers, what La Femme D'Argent sounds like? Or Ce Matin La? (The Money Woman and This Morning respectively according to babel fish).
For the record (no pun intended), La Femme D'Argent is the album opener, and instantly recognisable from a hundred TV shows as something used as backing - not that this is a bad thing. It starts with a rain sample, and a drum beat fades in which is oddly reminiscent of Sympathy for the Devil, only slower and more... well, French. Then the famous bassline, and an organ solo that takes up most of the tune, courtesy of the otherwise absent Eric Regert. It's all very nice, and sets the mood for the rest of the album.
Ce Matin La is notable for a tuba solo, and some strings, which is probably responsible for the description 'Debussy meets Daft Punk' that I read somewhere. You could, in fact, reel off a whole host of influences on this album, so I will:
Jean Jacques Perry
Brian Eno (Taking Tiger Mountain in particular)
The Beach Boys
I could go on (Giorgio Moroder, Burt Bacharach, Thelonius Monk) but Air have taken those influences, seasoned them well, maybe poured over a wine-based sauce, eaten them with petit-pois, and then disgorged a timeless piece of ambient pop.
Other instrumentals include Talisman and Le Voyage de Penelope, which I think you can probably manage to translate yourselves. Frankly, they're both forgettable, but they help the album hang together, and so should be applauded as mood pieces if nothing else. The only track that sticks in the craw on its way past (to stretch that unpleasant metaphor a bit further) is Remember. You know, the one that goes [sings] "Re-mem-beeerrrr.... To-geth-eeerrrr....". Just a bit naff. One the whole though, well worth buying, and a high-tide mark that subsequent releases have failed to erase.
3) Whilst the front sleeve is easy to find a picture of, the rear is more difficult, and the inners are almost impossible.
Well, not any more.