Air - Talkie Walkie

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Source / Virgin / EMI
Catalog Number: 72435 966002 8
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:26:00

In only a handful of years the French duo Air has grown into a mix between Kraftwerk and Jean-Michel Jarre, delivering what could be described as "electronic Gainsbourg." In other words: the kind of music that could only be created within the borders of the French territory. In fact, their music sounds complex and effective all at once, just like a musical Eiffel Tower. From the catchy melodies of songs like "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly Watch The Stars," Air has created pure European electropop with the quality of several stars in a non-existing musical Michelin guide. From the humble beginnings of Premiers Symptones in 1997 to the commercial success of Moon Safari a year later, from the more elaborate The Virgin Suicides to the heavily promoted 10,000 Hz Legend, Air has constantly learned more about studio possibilities and the extremes that it can create within the musical spectrum. Helped out by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck) in the mixing department, Talkie Walkie most certainly is a statement of current times set in a suburban way, focused around typical French accents and whimsical textures. Let's not forget the rather unexpected album Baricco City Reading - Tre Storie Western which the duo released last year. Here Air's music simply becomes the backdrop for narration by Italian contemporary writer Baricco. The monotonous narration does not really uplift the music of Air so I'd rather put this album apart from the rest of their output.

Talkie Walkie for sure is a great new album with the whispering voices becoming an extra instrument amongst the many soundscapes used to assemble the Air sound. Whilst the opening track "Venus" is not exactly the song that will convince people to buy this album, the next song "Cherry Blossom Girl" is perfect in every single detail. It's well crafted, nicely arranged and, above all, it has a hidden commerciality which makes certain it all remains very arty whilst also being top-30 material. The inclusion of the flute reminds us slightly of Buscemi or Saint-Etienne. To my ears the repetitive "Run" has sampled the choir section out of 10cc's million selling "I'm Not In Love" classic without mentioning it in the sleeve notes. Talkie Walkie mainly remains an acoustic album even when a lot of electronics are involved, which in a way is an exclusive gift if you can arrange this within the concept of your own original music. With the string sections being arranged by the legendary Michel Colombier, a track like "Mike Mills" almost comes across with authentic soundtrack quality. Although from a lyrical point of view Air will never win the Nobel Prize for Literature, the duo perfectly adapts its lyrics so as to blend well with the song as a whole. "Surfing On A Rocket" therefore is first class material being top of the list for the chill out rooms. "Air" of detail is contained within the modern Morricone-like "Alpha Beta Gaga" with its very addictive whistling and its rather unexpected banjo. Dreamy sounds close the album with "Alone In Kyoto" embracing typical Japanese chords within a repetitive mould.

So although names like Yellow Magic Orchestra, Human League, OMD and Kraftwerk might pop up as references, Air has grown into kind of a different approach where the use of electronics is concerned. They have delivered a typical French sound turned into a universal language with the emphasis on acoustic simplicity making Talkie Walkie a pleasant, all around album with some commercial blinks thrown in for good measure. The perfect laidback album as antidote for the stressful day in the 21st Century!

Venus / Cherry Blossom Girl / Run / Universal Traveler / Mike Mills / Surfing On A Rocket / Another Day / Alpha Beta Gaga / Biological / Alone In Kyoto

Jean-Benoit Dunckel
Nicolas Godin


Malik Mezzadri - flute
Jessica Banks - additional vocals
Brian Reitzell - ride cymbal
Jason Falkner - bass
Lisa Papineau - additional vocals
Joey Waronker - percussion
Michel Colombier - piano

Premiers Symptomes (1997/1999) (ep)
Moon Safari (1998/2000)
The Virgin Suicides (2000/2001)
10,000 Hz Legend (2001)
City Reading (Tre Storie Western) (2003)
Everybody Hertz (2002) (remixes)
Talkie Walkie (2004)
Pocket Symphony (2007)
Love 2 (2009)

Genre: Electronic

Origin FR

Added: June 7th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1322
Language: english


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