FLY ME TO THE MOON

The debut album by Air is soaring towards its twenty-fifth anniversary. A big part of the reason people are still enjoying Moon Safari is its tasteful mash-up of genres. Melding lounge, electronica, chill-out, pop, even trip-hop, this charming album is friendly, accessible, and a sustained delight.

The LP opens with the lounge jazz instrumental “La Femme d’Argent”, though those adjectives don’t do justice to the bewitching slinkiness of the tune nor its impeccable keyboard cool. When I first heard this on a magazine CD I fell instantly in love with the “Silver Woman” and simply had to have the album she appeared on. If you have a taste for retro-styled electric piano, you’ll be in heaven for all seven minutes of this gem.

Though the rest of Moon Safari doesn’t quite live up to this pearler of an opener, it remains a hugely enjoyable listen two decades on. 

A big part of the attractiveness of the album is the diversity within its unified sound. “You Make it Easy” is a smooth bossa ballad sung by Beth Hirsch, “Kelly Watch the Stars” starts dreamily before adding a bouncing bass-line that will make you groove even if you’re flaked out on the couch in your galactic safari suit after dancing all night at some Venusian disco.

The two musicians, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, hail from Versailles in France and clearly have a love of everything from bouncy pop (the hit “Sexy Boy”) to romantic Bacharach pastiche (“Ce Matin La”). But they also know their electro-pop history; “Remember” uses Electric Light Orchestra vocoder and a rhythmic foundation evoking a sexier Kraftwerk. In fact, what makes the album so enjoyable is the sense of knowing homage; Air are celebrating, not copying. A personal favourite is the wistful electronica of “Talisman” that floats a pretty keyboard melody on another terrific bass line enriched by some deft synth strings. “New Star” even has harmonica and acoustic guitar, proving that these friends are not entirely electric. 

The balance of instrumentals, vocoder voices and smooth guest vocals (the aforementioned Ms Hirsch) provide enough variety for Moon Safari to be a trip that is worth taking again and again. The safari is not remotely dangerous but it certainly is entertaining. Book your seat on the next lunar rocket; Air’s Moon may not have oxygen but it has plenty of atmosphere. And there is no dark side.

This post first appeared at the Discrepancy Records blog in November 2018. The first sentence has been updated.
It is re-posted here with kind permission.

9 comments

  1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    No dark side indeed. This record was in constant rotation as that soundtrack right as people arrive at the house for a night of food and entertainment, was one of my go-tos when I used to host dinner parties like that. “Re-member…” for-ever

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Space-age lounge. Can’t beat it to set the mood. Chin chin!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kingclover · · Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s the best album in the whole universe. My favorite ones are pretty much the same as yours, especially La Femme d’Argent and Kelly. Awesome. This album is from the golden age of electronic music in the ’90s, which is when I really got into this stuff. So many great electronic albums. That was like the golden era for my age group. Actually, my favorite album by Air Is Premier Symptomes, which is really an EP I suppose. But all the tracks are instrumentals similar to La Femme and Talisman, which means they’re great. It’s more like Moon Safari than Moon Safari. lol. I also really like 10,000 Hz, even though a lot of people didn’t like that album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In harmony with all those Air comments, King C. Premier Symptomes is fantastic and like you I enjoyed the more beat driven 10,000 Hz.

      Like

  3. “Remember” remains one of my favorite songs. Great album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always gravitated to Talkie Walkie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I immediately thought ‘Sinatra?’ when I saw that headline. ~ ~ ~
    Later in the day, YouTube served up uninterrupted Moon Safari. Great.
    With my e30 Topping DAC once more stripping optimised sound from the Sunroom TV, the overall affect is more than Shiraz worthy.
    It’s a nice relaxing album.
    Thanks for the prompt Bruce.
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Ha! He fell right into my cunning tin pan alley trap!

      Like

  6. If I was a WWE wrestler I would use ‘Sexy Boy’ as my entry music.

    I love this LP unreservedly, particularly the bit they robbed from Hawkwind’s ‘Assault & Battery’ for ‘La Femme D’Argent’.

    Like

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