Air - 10 000Hz Legend
With 10 000Hz Legend, Air took a departure from the fluffy, chill-out music they’re normally associated with into much stranger territory. True, the French duo have always made interesting noises, but this album is less hummable, more sinister.
The first single, Radio #1, is the sort of experimental track (complete with annoying ‘DJ’ singing over the end) that screams ‘commercial suicide’. With no memorable tune to speak of (and, frankly, much arsing around), it’s easy to see why some Moon Safari fans would have been instantly put off.
Opener Electronic Performers seems to take a cue from Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album, sliding in on a heavy beat and adding touches of heavy (for Air, anyway) guitar. The vocals are, appropriately, electronically treated, which is also the case on a number of other songs here, such as the sensual, spacey How Does It Make You Feel?
Sex Born Poison and the wonderfully titled Wonder Milky Bitch play on the French’s reputation of being sex-obsessed. In fact, the latter could be described as futuristic country porno music. Both have lyrics that sound like badly translated subtitles, although one presumes this is intentional. “You know how to do it/ Wonder milky bitch/ You don’t wear cosmetic/ You don’t like arithmetic.”
As on any Air album, there are a clutch of tunes which are just too slight. Radian, for example, is a flowery, poorer version of La Femme D’Argent from Moon Safari, and unnecessarily long.
The two best - and most accessible tracks - are the collaborations with Beck. Indeed, Vagabond sounds more Beck than Air, including harmonica and the sort of travelling hobo lyrics you might associate with the man. Don’t Be Light is excellent, seemingly taking inspiration from the Mission Impossible and Star Trek themes, then piling guitar solos and the occasional meaningless utterance from Mr Hansen on top.
With its somewhat bizarre feel (and humour), 10 000Hz Legend may not sit well with all Air fans, never mind the casual buyer. However, as a fascinating diversion from the band’s norm, this album is definitely worthy of investigation by the more open-minded listener.