By Sarah Bennett
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By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
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When French band Air released Moon Safari amid the Chems/Daft Punk electronica explosion of the mid-'90s, the duo took their place as chill-out-room troubadours behind their brethren's more dance-floor-oriented fare. But as the Chems have become the Led Zeppelin and Daft Punk the Who of their ilk, Air have quietly become its Pink Floyd.
For two guys who started out making tracks in their bedrooms they never dreamed of having to play live, Air put on an amazing and evocative live show. "We make music for spacing-out," says singer/keyboardist JB Dunckel proudly.
Fortified by his recent Darkel solo project, Dunckel has matured into a solid front man, while partner Nicolas Godin learned to play traditional Japanese instruments for their latest disc, Pocket Symphony. "It's disrespectful to play them in a rock-band setting, so he plays a keyboard live," Dunckel explains.
With a full live band, Air bring a career-spanning set (they only play a handful of new songs, and yes, they still play a guitar-heavy version of "Sexy Boy") to life using theremin, keyboards, even violins. While their contemporaries stick to deejaying and live theatrics, Air are taking the biggest risk of all: a once-cutesy tech-pop duo trying to be a real band with real songs they perform live, drawing from material that has become less obvious with each album of uncanny un-rock.
"Really, we are like Ennio Morricone. He brought '60s-rock guitar into soundtrack music. We are bringing soundtrack music into pop music," Dunckel says. "We want people to feel like they are in a dream."
If not Pink Floyd, then it's R.E.M.