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If Androids dream of electric sheep, what does Air dream of? Does the Parisian band float on wistful clouds, pondering deep philosophical questions, or do they just want to get down and dirty with Texan cheerleaders? After listening to their second proper album, 10 000Hz Legend, you'll be forced to conclude that the answer is clearly all of the above.
From the road movie wanderlust of Lucky & Unhappy or the Beck collaboration The Vagabond to the uncut sauce of Sex Born Poison or blow job fantasy Wonder Milky Bitch ("We like blowjobs!" they enthuse "Doesn't everyone?"), this is a tangerine dream of an album. An unstoppable soft machine pondering everything from the deepest existential questions of life to the joys of sex. It's an album recalling everything from classic seventies rock, to eighties synthesiser experiments while still looking forward to a bright shining digital musical future.
We've been here before of course: when Air released their debut Moon Safari in 1998, they changed the way we listened to music forever. Its lush soundscapes of vintage instruments and eternal melodies gave us a whole new musical playroom to romp in, one in which Gainsbourg could record with Bardot, Bacharach and John Barry. One in which the listener could frolic in the waves with the Beach Boys before driving off to see ELO at the Hollywood Bowl.
Since then, of course, Air have kept busy. Two years later, the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's critically acclaimed film The Virgin Suicides, with its hit Playground Love, recast JB and Nicolas as nouveau progressive rockers. They left their studio set in the idyllic Versailles countryside that inspired so much of their early, playfully pastoral music settling in Paris, giving what they freely admit is a more paranoid, urban edge to this new album. They first met and bonded with two members of Beck's band who played live with Nicolas and JB, and then the urban cowboy himself.
They toured America, criss-crossing the country for months in a tour bus, re-living the 70s rock nightmares of so many of their heroes. But while most rock stars would happily lose it smoking groupies and snorting hot dogs, Air says the experience made them feel more like rootless Jack Kerouac beat novel characters.