Air Pocket Symphony

Since their mainstream breakthrough and first full-length release, Moon Safari, back in ’98, Air have received criticism for their take on experimental electronica with pop sensibilities. 10,000Hz Legend was labelled too experimental, while the happy-go-lucky Talkie Walkie was deemed by many critics to be left wanting, with its turn towards simpler and more obvious pleasures. Pocket Symphony sounds as though the ever-unsatisfied naysayers will be appeased to some degree, as the self-proclaimed "modernists” bring forth a series of mysterious melancholy ballads that bridge the gap between traditional and experimental. It is not easy to absorb the music immediately but once lost within it your attention is kept. Gentle currents of arpeggiatic pianos and Japanese influences of the shamisen and harp-like koto are gradually intertwined with the tender vocals that have become partnered with their sound. Jarvis Cocker and Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon contribute soothing tones while their collaborators create mournful backgrounds to complete the portrait. Though the cheerful whistling of the up-tempo "Alpha Beta Gaga” seems a million miles away there is still an implicit drive from the instrumental rhythms despite a general absence of percussion and a subtle but uplifting harmonic resolution with the typical essence of Air. (Virgin)