Late Night Tales: Air - (2xLP Vinyl Compilation)

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Late Night Tales: Air is the 15th DJ mix album released in the Late Night Tales series on Late Night Tales. It was mixed by Jean-Benoît Dunckel from French band Air.

Let's be honest – French chill-out masters Air were never going to have any trouble blending a sophisticated mix of mood-enhancing rock and pop for the soul. Opening with 'All Cats Are Grey' by The Cure (from the start of their dark Trilogy - Faith: nothing like starting as you mean to go on), it soon swoops into even trippier territory with 'Planet Caravan' by Black Sabbath (from their 1970 album Paranoid) and into Nino Rota's ultra-eery 'O Venezia, Venaga, Venusia (from the original soundtrack to '76 art-house classic 'Il Casanova di Fellini, slowly but surely it takes in tracks from The Band, Japan, Scott Walker and Lee Hazlewood. As melancholic as it is after-dark dreamy, you can rest assured that there's no JLS in the mix here.


This installment of the LateNightTales series pairs up with Jean-Benoît Dunckel's solo project as the total fall publicity for Air. It's also one of the best of this type of mix I've heard in a while. For one thing, Air have taken the "Late Night" part of the title very seriously, making for an incredibly functional, utilitarian mix. Only a very few tracks here have anything approaching a conventional drum kit, and a good portion of the set consists of moody film-score work and orchestral pieces: These songs are matched up on their slow movement and their spare, deliberate sound. The result is uniformly pensive and weighty, painted in deep, dark colors-- a mix for the deadest hours of night.

And since Air have always been pop songwriters more than any kind of "electronic" act, they manage to offer a terrific picture of the music that informs their own recordings. The most colorful track here is Minnie Ripperton's still-gorgeous "Lovin' You", a track whose twinkling 70s keys are an obvious antecedent to Air's Moon Safari. (They also sound so pure and natural that it's hard to remember why that album had to give them the occasional ironic wink.) There are also plenty of examples of the kind of very-grave, very-French baritone drama that clearly informs the group's later albums. The way Japan's "Ghosts" suspends David Sylvian's voice over an abyss, with only the odd keyboard accent to keep it company; the way Scott Walker and Lee Hazlewood rumble their way through deep reverb over plush arrangements-- what else would you expect Air to be listening to?

The band's choices here turn out to be consistently interesting, too, and should prove worthwhile even to someone who already digs through this kind of stuff on her own. Sofia Coppola might have beat them to anthologizing the Cure's "All Cats Are Grey", and a Cat Power chestnut in the middle kind of breaks the spell, but the majority of the picks are damned clever. Jeff Alexander's "Come Wander With Me" seems like it should be some vintage English or Greenwich-Village folk, until you look it up and find out it was composed for an episode of The Twilight Zone. There's some of the sedate, flanged-out psychedelic music people forget Black Sabbath tended to make. The folky second half skips from a Robert Wyatt lullaby to Elliott Smith to the Troggs' whispery "Cousin Jane"-- something like the Stones' "I Am Waiting" if it never got around to the rock part. There's a string piece from the Chinese composer Tan Dun, a bit of Nino Rota, a suddenly sunny break from Sébastien Tellier, and-- for the closer-- the Cleveland Orchestra playing Ravel.

"All Cats are Grey" – The Cure
"Planet Caravan" – Black Sabbath
"O' Venezia Venaga Venusia" – Nino Rota
"I Shall Be Released" – The Band

"Camille" – Georges Delerue
"Ghosts" – Japan
"The Old Man's Back Again" – Scott Walker
"Come Wander With Me" – Jeff Alexander
"Metal Heart" – Cat Power

"Lovin' You" – Minnie Riperton
"For the World" – Tan Dun
"Le long de la rivière tendre" – Sébastien Tellier 
"My Autumn's Done Come" – Lee Hazlewood

"P.L.A." – Robert Wyatt
"Let's Get Lost" – Elliott Smith
"Cousin Jane" – The Troggs (from "Trogglodynamite")
"Musica" – Air/Alessandro Baricco
"Pavane pour une infante défunte" – composed by Maurice Ravel, performed by The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra 

A first vinyl issue in 2018
'Half speed' mastered for optimum audiophile reproduction
Pressed on virgin 180-gram heavyweight vinyl

Includes bonus exclusive download code to Air's classic 'LateNightTales' 2006 mix as well as unmixed track versions in FLAC, WAV & MP3 formats.