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"Yes, it's part of the wet dream, no?" Dunckel admits with a laugh. "But the British press was glad when we talked about sex, when we said we were into sex and we were into pornography. For the British, that's very important to sell the papers."
But Legend also discards Air's previous fascination with retro chic. Where Moogs gave Safari a Pet Sounds-meets-Serge Gainsbourg '60s tint and Suicides the appropriate mix of feathery, '70s anxiety, Legend's sophisticated combination of scattershot beats and guitar punctuation feels distinctively contemporary. And that move toward the now was the main reason Air recruited Sugar and Yumiko for this project.
"We met them in Paris when we did a few shows and we liked their music," Dunckel says. "So we know them a little bit. And when we were working on this album, we wanted to make it very modern. And we were thinking that Japanese music has a very modern, electronic attitude. So we felt that Japanese vocals would give ["Sex Born Poison"] a very modern feel to the very high-tech sound."
Air as latter-day modernists shouldn't come as that big of a surprise to its fans. It's always lurked beneath the band's time-capsule pop throughout its career. Godin and Dunckel met while attending the University in Paris. Dunckel was already involved with Orange, a more indie-rock type outfit that he formed with Alex Gopher. Godin joined, Gopher left, and Godin and Dunckel eventually became Air in 1995. After a few singles on the British label Mo' Wax and the French label Source, the band unleashed Moon Safari in 1998, catapulting the band into the limelight.
Their success has enabled the band to share its accomplishments with their countrymen. Dunckel and Godin recently formed their own label, Record Makers, and its first release is L'Incroyable Vérité by French musician Sebastien Tellier, who is opening for Air on its U.S. tour.
And Dunckel, for one, is excited to see how American audiences respond to him. "Sebastien Tellier is a sort of giant Jesus Christ," he says. "He's like a prophet. He's taking his life like a piece of art. He's doing a sort of very strange soundtrack music, very minimal, there is no drums. He's very involved with a new process of composition. He's trying to do something that's very involved with beauty, he's trying to reach beauty. He's attracted by a very certain kind of art, trash aesthetic in his music. He's very--how do you say?--It's like a strange, dark novel. Very dramatic. We like that."