Recordings: Air – Pocket Symphony

Ever wish somebody would have slipped Mozart some acid? With their fourth official project, French duo Air attempt to reconcile modern electronica with symphony-hall sheet music, achieving a delicately novel antiquity by looping their already sparse, arpeggioed beats into an acoustic guitar-and-piano orchestra.

Pocket Symphony is a departure from 2004’s acclaimed Talkie Walkie, spotlighting nude instrumentals over poppy synthesizer and sound-board pump. The album’s milder aesthetics are still classic Air – a melodic dream-trip with a computer-generated soundtrack – but at a slower, more methodical pace. The pair further simplify their lives by skimping on the vocals (a third of the songs are purely instrumental), a haunting godsend to tracks like “”Mayfair Song”” but an elevator-music ultimatum for others – “”Space Maker”” requires an attentively active listen to avoid completely fading into the background.

The most engaging moments occur during the voice-sprinkled “”Mur du Japon”” and “”Napalm Love,”” jolting the listener awake after the meandering tinker of the majority of the album. But the overall sleep-inducing ambience is not necessarily a drawback – because sometimes a pleasant musical haze is the only answer to a rainy day.