Air – Premiers Symptomes
Album: Premiers Symptomes
Release Date: 1999
His/Her Album: Both
Although I’ve kind of left the Air party over the past few years (I had to look up what their last album was — I haven’t listened to them since Talkie Walkie) I still come back to Premiers Symptomes every few months. I mean, it’s Air — you know what you’re getting. Shimmering, beautiful music. Although Premiers Symptomes was released a year after their debut, Moon Safari, it’s actually a collection of their initial singles with two additional tracks. It’s incredible to think that these were the first recordings they made, before Moon Safari broke. They’re fully-formed, with no unnecessary elements. Every horn line, drum break, hi-hat, and synth part are impeccably placed. Above all, they sound confident, like they pursuing a well-thought-out vision. In many ways, these tracks trump some of the more kitchy elements of Moon Safari that haven’t aged as well, and that don’t sound quite as good on the 100th listen (I don’t think I need to listen to “Sexy Boy” ever again). It’s tempting to label this dinner party music for effete pinot noir-sipping yuppies, but that doesn’t do the music justice. These tracks hold up on their own, and deserve your full attention.
“Le Soleil Est Pres Du Moi” in particular is incredible. Rhodes + vocoder + fat bass groove + occasional horn = bliss. Appropriate times to listen to this: 1) long drives down empty highways at night; 2) winter nights walking through the city alone; 3) when you bring your date home with you; 4) Sunday night summer sunsets at home after a long weekend of partying.
You can tell that Air were really having a good time and doing what they liked to do when they made this album: make groovy, electronic stoner music! And it comes across well; I would like to knit, get a massage or just chill out to this album. The anti-Kraftwerk, Air is all smooth synths, synthetic seagull cries, jazzy horn, and is that a vibraphone I hear? Whatever. It might as well be. Yet, Premiers Symphones sounds less dated then some of their other, later albums, maybe because of the lack of vocals. No doubt, there are electronic labels releasing similar work today, and I’m sure I would be spectacularly bored by it, but what makes this special is that they did it when they did it.
So this summer, turn the lights down low, put Premiers Symphones on the stereo, open a bottle of wine and get ready for some smoochy time. Did I mention that’s this is a great make out record? I think I even hear a little “bwaa-chicka-chicka” in “Californie.” One particularly smooth, relaxing track to get down to is the tingle-inducing “Le Soleil Est Près De Moi.” With its imitation bells, vocals and unrivaled groovyness, it’ll make your panties drop. Just don’t forget that the album finishes strong with a dance–worthy track, complete with retro news soundbites, because if you aren’t at the main event yet it might yank you out of the mood.