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Album Review

"Evading the structures, waiting to fall but not quite yet" — so read the liner notes to the second EP from Air France, which arrived a year and a half after their slight but celebrated debut release, On Trade Winds. Partially excerpted from "No Excuses," the EP's most lyrically and rhythmically prominent cut, it's an apt epigraph for the duo's music, which seems to evade conventional structures both compositional and taxonomic, while evoking the sense of openness, endless possibility, and detachment from reality that can come in moments of transition and in-betweenness. Evocation is more or less Air France's primary mode of functioning — their defining characteristic is how much more difficult (and, seemingly, less relevant) it is to describe what they actually sound like than to list the images they so dreamily conjure up: beach parties, sea foam, airiness, swaying palm trees, endless summer, indescribable bliss. At 23 minutes, No Way Down comes close to doubling the length of its predecessor (at this rate, the group should have a full album's worth of material by at least 2010), but its contents follow similar, utterly distinctive paths of lush, hazy, atmospheric pop/techno/faux-worldbeat/psychedelia. "Maundy Thursday" and "Windmill Wedding" are the cinematic, near-ambient book-ending tracks — one stately and enigmatic, the other gracefully meandering — while the four pieces that form the EP's core are slightly longer groove-based excursions that feel simultaneously exultant and wistful. Sonically, almost nothing is off limits as long as it's swathed in a sufficient amount of reverb — "June Evenings" alone encompasses birdsongs; basslines; trumpets; strings; marimbas (real or synthesized); countless layers of synths and breathy, indecipherable vocals; off-tuned guitar strums; and sampled shouts of "bombaclat!" Expanding and improving upon their already striking debut, No Way Down is a stunning accomplishment on so many levels: the amount of care and attention to detail that so clearly went into its creation; its stylistic uniqueness (the Avalanches' Since I Left You is a ready and resonant point of comparison in spirit and tone, as is some of the work by their associates and fellow Swedes the Tough Alliance and Studio, but you'd be hard-pressed to find much out there that truly sounds like this); and its sheer, subjective beauty. Clearly aware of their own strengths, Air France are somehow too earnest and endearing even to come off as cocky for alluding to them, as they do, subtly, in a dialogue snippet looped intermittently throughout "Collapsing at Your Doorstep," which more or less sums it all up: "Sorta like a dream, isn't it?" "No: better." ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


Formed: Gothenburg, Sweden

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Formed by the generically named Joel and Henrik, Swedish duo Air France came from almost nowhere with their brand of psychedelic neo-disco to grow into one of the biggest critical prospects of the late 2000s. Their debut 2006 EP, On Trade Winds, quietly garnered them their first notices, but it was their second EP, 2008's No Way Down, that truly put them on the map, receiving generally favorable reviews from the music press at large....
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No Way Down - EP, Air France
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  • 2,99 €
  • Genres: Pop, Music
  • Released: 04 June 2008

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