Follow Us on Twitter

Air - Pocket Symphony

Air, Pocket Symphony

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

IF IT’S beautifully composed moments of chillout you’re seeking, then look no further than Air’s Pocket Symphony.

The eagerly-anticipated follow-up to 2004’s Talkie Walkie once again confidently reconciles palpable, unapologetic ambience with unpretentious soulful simplicity.

What’s more, it does so by broadening the musical pallette.

While conventional instruments such as electronic drums and vintage synthesisers continue to play a great role, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunkel have added Far East classical instruments to several tracks that lends them a serene beauty.

Godin learned to play the instruments from an Okinawa master – namely the Koto (usually referred to as a Japanese floor harp) and the Shamisen, a three-stringed instrument that has become one of Japan’s most popular classical instruments (it resembles a banjo).

The result is effortlessly enchanting; at times beautifully inspiring, at others supremely relaxing.

Album opener Space Maker eases you into familiar territory, the guitars washing over you like a smooth massage and the subtle beats creating a blissful vibe.

There’s the usual emphasis on instrumentals about vocals but when voices are employed, they’re no less impressive.

Jarvis Cocker lends a haunting presence to the sombre One Hell Of A Party, while Dunchel’s whispered, innocent style perfectly compliments the rolling piano chords, glockenspiel and shamisen of Once Upon A Time.

Mayfair Song pairs cinematic piano with moody bass to intoxicating effect, as though providing a seminal soundtrack moment to an unknown movie.

And Left Bank flirts with Jose Gonzalez territory, especially when incorporating Godin’s similar vocal style.

Mr Du Japon makes good use of some slicker beats and the Koto to provide one of the more upbeat moments but quickly mellows things out with the achingly poignant Lost Message.

And The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon lends a notable presence to the melancholy Somewhere Between Waking And Sleeping, another beautifully-composed effort.

Final tracks Redhead Girl and Night Sight ease you into a contented state of mind in equally mesmerising fashion, providing further compelling proof of Air’s blissful brilliance.

A Pocket Symphony may lack any tracks that jump out at you and scream chart success or single (such as Alpha Beta Gaga or Sexy Boy), but there’s a quite confidence about it that’s deeply alluring. It’s an album that only gets better with each listen and tailor-made to ease away the stresses and strains of modern living.

Download picks: Space Maker, Once Upon A Time, One Hell Of A Party, Somewhere Between Waking And Sleeping, Mer Du Japon, Lost Message, Redhead Girl, Mayfair Song

Track listing:

  1. Space Maker
  2. Once Upon A Time
  3. One Hell Of A Party
  4. Napalm Love
  5. Mayfair Song
  6. Left Bank
  7. Photograph
  8. Mer Du Japon
  9. Lost Message
  10. Somewhere Between Waking And Sleeping
  11. Redhead Girl
  12. Night Sight