Pocket Symphony

French-accented, vocoder-distorted wordings, and spooky organ intonations? Yup, definitely Air, but the duo has actually embraced Japan. The inclusion of traditional Japanese instruments give a mystical flavor to the songs: "Mer du Japon" and "One Hell of a Party." The latter features Pulp's Jarvis Cocker with his special brand of deadpan observations and delivery, a particularly good combination with Air's esoteric pop. Also joining the duo is the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon on "Somewhere Between Walking and Sleeping," whose sad warblings conversely bring hope. Air's focus on Pocket Symphony, however, is on instrumental numbers. These boast miles of space for deep hatha yoga breaths and extended stretches. Their orchestral movements are calming without being repetitive or overdone. When they do say some words, they are teasing and playful. The French have developed a sense of humor.

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