Released : 1998
It was difficult at times to not view the label Cool Britannia – recycled from it’s original minting by the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band in 1967 via various social commentators of the mid 90’s – as somewhat oxymoronic. Whilst Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher’s flirtation with new Labour was supposedly just one example marking a greater alignment between British popular culture, art and politics, it seemed as contrived as it was awkward, at it’s worst a big top of reheated antics and lowest common denominators.
Air’s Moon Safari arrived by contrast without much fanfare, a record made in a dilapidated studio located within the grounds of a French chateau. Taking inspiration from things largely derided amongst our native commentariat – disco, acid folk, psychedelia, yacht rock – on it Versailles duo Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicholas Godin created a soundtrack for an astral fantasy on which time seemed to have little meaning at all.
La femme d’argent opened it, a seven minute instrumental where in Blighty you were only as good as your first eight bars. Godin has since demonstrated some typically Gallic ambivalence about the decision, saying it could “only be at the beginning or the end of the record…except that it was too good of a track to be last, and so it was first.” He delivered that safe in the knowledge though that he was right; an undulating retro-futurist pulse twined with his sinuous bass, it perfectly framed an album that made it seem like La Manche was a million miles wide. There were no Tricolore wrapped guitars there, but everyone knows that the opposite of cool is trying too hard.