Air is an electronic or electro-pop band that emerged onto the scene in 1998. The french duo released their debut album "Moon Safari" the same year and it is considered a classic by many fans, including myself. Although their first album was brilliant, the band's third album, "10,000Hz Legend," was quite different from the band's usual synth-pop sound. I've been an Air fan for many years and if you are a fan of "Moon Safari" or "Talkie Walkie," you might not exactly enjoy this album.
Air haven't traveled away from their poppy electronic roots, but they have changed things up. The music featured here is less catchy and has a lot more atmospheric art rock influences. Air combines relaxing electronica music with atmospheric art rock. The result: a mellow, relaxing, and even depressing electronic album. While some songs have some bright poppy moments, "10,000Hz Legends" is a gentle album with more dreary moments than upbeat ones. I don't think that I like this change. Although the songs all have a melancholy feel, the music doesn't work well because Air try to combine pop with melancholy music. The pop influences get in the way, and this leads to a lot of unneeded synths, and other arrangements. While this is happening, the music still remains subtle, gentle, and even depressing.
The music here is for those who want some atmospheric electronic music; this is not a synth-pop album. "10,000Hz Legend" strives if you want some melancholy, peaceful, and gentle music. The big problem with this album is that it seems dull and uninspired. Although this is soft electronic music, there seems to be no energy; a lot of these tracks drag on very long considering that most of them are five minutes and up. A few of these tracks recycle the same riffs over and over again. This doesn't occur too often, but it is obvious in a few songs and it really feels like Air is slacking off. Once again, this is a solid ambient album but when it comes to creativity and song structure Air just don't get the job done.
Air uses a bunch of instruments yet their music remains simple and ambient. The instruments used range from acoustic guitars, keyboards, pianos, flutes, saxophones, and violins. None of these instruments stand out with the exception of the keyboard, they all play simple arrangements and together they create soft, beautiful, ambient music. The main instrument would be the synthesizer. It plays a big role in the album and dominates most of the sound, playing basic chords, scales, and cadences to create simple yet effective synth sounds and bubbly effects. Next in line would be the flute and the saxophone. These two brass instruments give the music a more atmospheric and spacey feel; without these two instruments the sound would be dull and it would lose its soft, space like touch. The string arrangements are simply beautiful, they obviously add a mini orchestra and make this album even more atmospheric and dark. Once again these arrangements play simple music, but everything ties together to create an ambient, atmospheric feel.
The vocals are simply incredible. Now there can either be a male, or a female vocalist, it switches off quite a bit. First I'll start off with the male vocalists. They really have beautiful, gentle voices that fit the music perfectly. Nicholas Godin has a mellow, soothing, and high-pitched voice, and he keeps everything soothing and smooth. Female vocalist Beth Hirsch has an amazing voice. She has a mellow, relaxed, and jazzy voice fitting the ambience of this album perfectly. I think that Air slightly misuse the vocalists talents. While they both sing on nearly all the tracks, they never put the vocalists together. This would be amazing, and once again I think that the band was really slacking off. All in all the vocals are a wonderful experience; they are gentle and beautiful.
Overall this album was a huge disappointment. "10,000Hz Legend" is a huge departure from the bands previous albums musically and instrumentally. That being said this album does have its high points. The vocals are excellent, both Beth and Nicholas have soothing voices that mix well with the ambience of the album. Another high point would be that the album is very ambient, this makes great background music and it is ultra relaxing. That's about it for the highlights. This album just lacks energy, and substance. These songs are ambient and mellow, but the electro-pop influences have seemed to almost disappear and when they do appear they appear in odd spots during ambient sessions. "10,000Hz Legend" is a dark, dreary, mellow electronic album, and it features hardly any pop moments and has lost a lot of energy. While this isn't a bad album I'm left with the impression that Air either tried something new, or just didn't really care at all.