French duo Air has always occupied a singular astral plane. J.B. Dunckel and Nico Godin create compositions that are nominally electronic but above all organic-sounding. They're slightly retro, dabbling in the experimental '70s, while also otherworldly and futuristic. They're Teutonic in their love of machinery but Gallic in their embrace of hazy romance.
The band's earliest material — its debut EP, Premiers Symptômes, and full-length, Moon Safari — was cinematic in its moody scope. So it makes sense that a decade after its release, the group's film score for The Virgin Suicides remains one of Air's most beloved releases. Well into the new millennium, though, Dunckel and Godin continue to explore their favorite in-between spaces, last year offering their eighth full-length studio album, Love 2.
To see the band perform live is an all-encompassing experience. There's no cold twiddling of knobs or clicking of laptop keys. Dunckel and Godin man a tangled web of wires and a small symphony's worth of instruments, synced with a gently psychedelic light show and some interesting revelations. For instance, the cutesy female voice that shows up on so many tracks: That's Dunckel, tweaking his own croon using a variety of effects. It's one of a number of surprises from an act that continues to peel back the layers ever so slightly as the years progress.