Found In Translation

Found In Translation

By Gilbert Garcia

It's easy to understand why the French duo Air is director Sofia Coppola's musical collaborator of choice. Coppola not only hired Air to provide the soundtrack for her directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides, but got them to contribute a song, "Alone in Kyoto," to her acclaimed sophomore effort, Lost in Translation. Like Coppola's films, Air's music is all about ambience, space, unstated tensions, and understated emotions.

With the stunning 1998 album Moon Safari, Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin mixed elements of electronic music and modern European pop and created a new synthesis. Atmospheric, ethereal, and mildly funky, it appealed to fans of electronica, but its gorgeous melodies and lush, extraterrestrial synth textures begged to be listened to on headphones, not danced to in clubs. And unlike so much new-agey tripe that mimicked it, this music was cool, but rarely bland. If Burt Bacharach had been born in Paris in the 1970s, this might have been the direction he'd taken.


Friday, April 2
Austin Music Hall
208 Nueces, Austin

After disappointing diehards with its followup, 10,000hz Legend, Air has regained its stride with the help of Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on the new Talkie Walkie. By now, the group's sound has settled into familiarity, but Talkie Walkie reminds doubters that no one does this particular brand of meditational mood enhancement as well as Dunckel and Godin. On an album that was conceived as a series of statements to their girlfriends, tracks like the infectiously romantic "Cherry Blossom Girl," "Biological," and "Alpha Beta Gaga" work both as futuristic pop songs and rich production exercises. This is international music that transcends translation and requires no subtitles. •

` By Gilbert Garcia `

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