Air: “La Femme d’Argent”
Talk about ambient pop for any amount of time, and the French duo Air has to enter the conversation. Their 1998 debut album, Moon Safari, is one of the classics of the genre. It takes electronica beyond electronics, plants it in the ground, and watches it sprout into something that seems a part of nature itself. Sure, there are robotic voices and a few metallic sounds here and there, but it all seems like part of a soothing dream, the soundtrack to a cosmic nature film, like Koyaanisqatsi without the cityscapes. It is by all means one of the great chill-out albums of all time.
The lead track, “La Femme d’Argent,” is everything great about the album, and about Air themselves, neatly wrapped up into 7 minutes of bliss. It’s hard to imagine a better song to relax edgy nerves, without ever coming close to being sappy Muzak. No lyrics, just an otherworldly melody and atmospherics. And a band named Air would of course have to be atmospheric, no? This song in particular set a bar for Air’s future music that they would find very difficult to match, although they’ve certainly come close (“Playground Love,” from their Virgin Suicides soundtrack, comes to mind). A great song to put on after 10 p.m., winding down a long day…