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Air - Love 2

Astralwerks - October 6, 2009

by Sam Frank

Air, Love 2Time moves fast. Seems like only yesterday Air's 1998 breakthrough album, Moon Safari, first grabbed the international spotlight with downtempo classics such as "Kelly Watch The Stars," "All I Need," and of course, "Sexy Boy." In the years following Moon Safari French duo Nicholas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel (the masterminds behind Air) have produced an array of emotionally seductive tunes, contributed to various movie soundtracks, and performed around the world, but on their newest album, Love 2 Air shows us how to welcome life from a different vantage point.

Recorded at their new studio in Paris, Love 2 is a musical adventure that deconstructs the way our brain manipulates time. In Michael Bay's first Transformers movie we saw many battle scenes between the autobots and decepticons. As fighting intensified so did the action. But sometimes the sequences were so fast that it looked like two metallic blobs battling each other. For Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, Bay rectified this problem by injecting a slow motion effect referred to as "bullet time" into all the action scenes; thus, giving moviegoers a chance to process what they were seeing onscreen. Although the "bullet time" effect only lasts a few seconds before returning to "normal" speed, it profoundly impacted the movie as a whole, similar to how Air's music resonates with fans.

With each new Air album, fans have come to expect a palette of sounds and songcraft previously unexplored, and Love 2 is no exception. Things get started with "Do The Joy," a droning song that gives robotic voice to our feelings; something Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto would have on his alarm clock before making Subliminal Sandwiches in the kitchen. Godin and Dunckel pick up the pace with "Eat My Beat," a retro sound reminiscent of car chase scenes from 60's era James Bond movies. Another high octane track on the album is the studio version of "Be A Bee," a song previously heard only in concert. The piano driven "So Light Is Her Footfall" is a typical Air song consumed by the backdrop of angelic vocal harmonies. Other highlights include "Night Hunter," a sultry groove with a bassline funky enough to make George Clinton get down, the psychedelic "Heaven's Light," a song that could have easily been mistaken for a b-side off Moby's 2002 album 18, and the jazzy "African Velvet," something you might hear in the background of a sheek club in Paris. Love 2's most riveting moment happens on the climactic "You Can Tell It To Everybody," a lush song that uses the beauty of quiet sonance to depict how secrecy can lead to emotional imprisonment.

If life is moving too fast for you to appreciate living it, then Air's Love 2 should be the next album you buy. The first time I heard Love 2 people around me started moving slower, the flashy signs in Times Square weren't cycling as fast, and the stresses of daily life gave way to a mellow mood. It felt like I was seeing life through a "Bullet Time" lens because everything around me went back to normal speed as soon as the album finished, and there within lies the power of this album. The most memorable experiences in a person's lifetime usually stem from emotional circumstances. And while love is the focus of Love 2 it's the hypnotic instrumentation and vocal arrangements that allow you to see life from a different perspective. We may not be able to go back in time or forsee the future, but thanks to Air we can slow life down long enough to enjoy it.