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Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisThough Air's been known to shift between down tempo tunes, chill out grooves and all out electronica, its experimental catalogue's always been best suited for intimate headphone listening. That's why whenever the band tours, it relies on constant visual accompaniment, which in the case of a recent Chicago show in support of Love 2 (Astralwerks) started a bit slow before blossoming into full-fledged sensory satisfaction.
The group comprised of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel (accompanied by a drummer) kicked into spacey gear with the synth-laden "Do the Joy," bathed in dark lighting hues and swirling shapes. Much of that temperament and backdrop tone continued throughout the cocktail popper "Love," the mid-tempo robotic rocker "Remember" and the somber but harmony-laden "Venus." Along the way, Dunckel was also faced with some technical keyboard issues, though he attempted to stay as poised as possible while an assistant scrambled with a flashlight on a handful of occasions.
However as the twenty track set progressed, the kinks worked themselves out and the mood gradually escalated, shifting towards "Missing The Light Of The Day" (loosely patterned after Kraftwerk), and later, the cheerfully vibrant "Alpha Beta Gaga." Some of the more ingenious screen shots in the back half included a throwback to vintage Atari for a Pong match and a kaleidoscope of colors come "Kelly Watch The Stars."
A triple decker encore of "Heaven's Light," "Sexy Boy" and "La Femme d'Argent" found the fellas firing on all instrumental and programming cylinders, sending out the show with lush soundscapes and even richer imagery. While there's certainly a case for Air to remain an album band instead of a must see live act, several stage elements were undeniably entrancing, while the players' atmospheric interpretations remain hypnotic in either context.
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