Review Summary: Premiers Symptomes is yet another release from this French duo that is worth looking into for any fans, but it's definitely not their best work either.Premiers Symptomes
is a collection of Air's earliest singles, released between 1995 and 1997. The version I'm reviewing is a re-release that appeared in 1999, with two extra bonus tracks.
is an excellent snapshot of Air's development as artists. Originally released in 1997, a year before Air's critically acclaimed breakthrough Moon Safari
, it shows Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin's roots of relaxed, atmospheric songs without most of the Pop stylings that are present on the majority of Air's future albums. It also shows what you could consider to be the "bare bones" of Air's songs, with drum machines and a multitude of synthesizers being present, but not a whole lot else. On Premiers Symptomes
you won’t be finding the frequent vocals, acoustic guitars or even Shamisens that you can find littered throughout the rest of Air's catalogue. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it feels as if the songs could do with spicing up.
Modular Mix, Casanova 70 and J'Ai Dormi Sous L'Eau are an example of this, and while they aren't bad songs, they last for nearly 6 minutes each which by Air's standards is quite long, and it really feels as if a little more action in the instrumentation region could have done these songs a world of good. Thankfully things pick up with Les Professionnels (which is essentially an early, more extended version of Moon Safari
's All I Need). It rectifies these faults by shortening the duration and spicing things up with some upbeat, varied keyboards leading the way on top of a classic Air bassline and guitar part which even the most casual of Air fans should recognise quite easily.
Along with Les Professionnels, Le Soleil Est Pres de Moi is probably the other highlight of this brief EP. It's one of the slowest, most laid back Air tracks I've heard, and with its relaxed horns and vocals is an excellent way to end the proceedings. However, since I'm listening to the re-release I have two bonus tracks tacked on the end to sit through which in classic bonus track form, don't fit in with the mood of the rest of the record at all. Californie isn't a bad song really, and actually contains some quite nice piano parts, but Brakes On however is an up beat, repetitive and rather annoying song that sticks out like a sore thumb among the rest of Premiers Symptomes
' mid-paced and atmospheric songs. At least the bonus tracks are at the end of the record, so I can just turn it off instead of sitting through one and a half songs I don't particularly care about.
While Premiers Symptomes
is not without its flaws, overall it's an enjoyable release that most Air fans will enjoy on some level, but personally I'd look into Moon Safari
, Talkie Walkie
, The Virgin Suicides
and Pocket Symphony
before considering this one.