Pocket Symphony

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Pocket Symphony
Studio album by
Released5 March 2007
LabelVirgin, Astralwerks, Source
ProducerAir, Nigel Godrich
Air chronology
Talkie Walkie
Pocket Symphony
Love 2
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]
The A.V. ClubA−[3]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[4]
The Guardian4/5 stars[5]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[6]
Mojo3/5 stars[7]
Spin3/5 stars[10]
Uncut3/5 stars[11]

Pocket Symphony is the fourth full-length album by French duo Air. The album was released in March 2007 and features collaborations with Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon.[12] Pocket Symphony also incorporates some of the Japanese instruments Godin recently learned to play from an Okinawan master musician: the koto (also referred to as a Japanese floor harp) and the three-string, banjo-like shamisen. However, a press release claims that "conventional instruments continue to play a great role" in the duo's music.[13] The album features art by Xavier Veilhan.

The first single from this album, "Once Upon a Time", can be heard on the group's MySpace page.[14]

Pocket Symphony debuted on the US Billboard 200 at number 40, with about 17,000 copies sold in its first week.[15] As of 2012 it has sold 77,000 copies in United States according to Nielsen SoundScan. [16]

The term "pocket symphony" was popularized by English journalist Derek Taylor, who used it to describe the Beach Boys' 1966 single "Good Vibrations".

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by JB Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, except "One Hell of a Party", lyrics by Jarvis Cocker; "Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping", lyrics by Neil Hannon.

  1. "Space Maker" – 4:02
    • Nicolas Godin – bass, guitar and solina
    • JB Dunckel – piano, synthesizers & vibraphone
    • Joey Waronker – drums and percussion
    • Strings arranged and conducted by Joby Talbot
    • Nicolas: We wanted to have this idea of the album literally as a pocket symphony so you imagine you're going into the opera and the lights go down and then this starts. It's not the greatest song on the album, but it's the best one to start with.
    • Jean-Benoit: This was a joke title from pace maker. Hilarious, huh?
  2. "Once Upon a Time" – 5:02
    • JB Dunckel – vocals, piano, synthesizers and glockenspiel
    • Nicolas Godin – guitar, synth bass, drum machine and shamisen
    • Magic Malik – flute
    • Tony Allen – drums
    • Nicolas: It's a story of boys meet girl. A fairy tale. Jean-Benoit is singing. I don't like my voice, really.
    • Jean-Benoit: We like the fairy tales.
  3. "One Hell of a Party" – 4:02
    • Jarvis Cocker – vocals
    • JB Dunckel – synthesizers and samples
    • Nicolas Godin – piano, koto, shamisen and bass
    • Joey Waronker – drums and percussion
    • Nicolas: Well, you'd have to talk to Jarvis about the lyrics. It's the kind of song where we really wanted to experiment with the instruments. And I played the piano exactly the way that Sakamoto would play on it.
    • Jean-Benoit: This is the sort of party where you are older and drunk and you are looking at the mess and wondering what happened. So we wanted the track to be very empty, skeletal and dark.
  4. "Napalm Love" – 3:27
    • Nicolas Godin – bass and guitars, drum machine
    • JB Dunckel – vocals, piano and synthesizers
    • Nicolas: It's about the words you use to talk about love. If you list all the words that are used to talk about love they are often horrible, like falling in love, burning for someone, like it's really destructive.
  5. "Mayfair Song" – 4:18
    • JB Dunckel – piano, arp percussions, xylophone, voice pad and synthesizers
    • Nicolas Godin – bass, drum machine and keyboards
    • Nicolas: It's a song we wrote here (Mayfair Studios) while Nigel was mixing. So we set up a little studio in the other room, we were recording. When we did Premiers Symptomes we used to do a bassline, get a vibe and that was it. We forgot how to do that and we wanted to get back to that simplicity. Nigel told us: “Do what you're good at”.
    • Jean-Benoit: We made this track very quickly, it only took one day.
  6. "Left Bank" – 4:07
    • Nicolas Godin – guitars and vocals
    • JB Dunckel – synthesizers, drum machine and vocals
    • Nicolas: This is a song I wrote in a hotel room after a lovely weekend with a girl. And then Monday morning she left without saying a word and I wrote it on my guitar, very simple. Crazy French girls!
    • Jean-Benoit: Nicolas and I are always talking about this non-existent girl that we want to meet, that we'd like to have in our bed, the one who left, recently. In our minds we say to her, “come back I love you, I've been a naughty boy”. This is our obsession right now.
  7. "Photograph" – 3:51
    • JB Dunckel – rhodes, piano, synthesizers and vocals
    • Nicolas Godin – bass, guitar, glockenspiel and tambourine
    • Joey Waronker – drums and percussion
    • Magic Malik – flute
    • Nicolas: Very cinematic music. When we started with Premiers Symptomes we really liked Blaxploitation soundtrack music; that groove, suspenseful music and we wanted to go back to this. We've come back to this grooving thing that we had lost.
    • Jean-Benoit: The original title of this was "Message For A Rock Star" and the idea was this: ok you are a rock star and God is also a fan of yours and he wants to have your autograph. You are such a rock star that even God wants you.
  8. "Mer du Japon" – 3:04 (English: Sea of Japan)
    • Nicolas Godin – bass, guitars, koto, tambourine and drums
    • JB Dunckel – piano, synthesizers and vocals
    • Nicolas: Haiku music. J'ai perdu la raison dans la mer du Japon. Oops, I lost my mind in the sea of Japan. Just one simple line.
    • Jean-Benoit: When you go to Los Angeles or Japan there is something special in the air, and we wanted to capture this special Pacific touch. It's almost like a perfume. It sounds a little bit like a French band Taxi Girl, Mirwais' first band. We were big fans of this band and there is a similar feel in the production.
  9. "Lost Message" – 3:32
    • JB Dunckel – piano and synthesizers
    • Nicolas Godin – bass, guitar, memory moog, koto and drum machine
    • Nicolas: It's so Satie and so French. It sounds so different.
    • Jean-Benoit: In my mind I see a sort of fresh modern Emmanuelle soundtrack. It's really erotic.
  10. "Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping" – 3:35
    • Neil Hannon – vocals
    • Nicolas Godin – guitars and koto
    • JB Dunckel – piano, synth bass, vibraphone
    • Strings arranged by David Richard Campbell
    • Nicolas: This is the Neil Hannon collaboration. I love this song so much. We wrote this for Charlotte.
  11. "Redhead Girl" – 4:33
    • JB Dunckel – vocals, rhodes, synthesizers, piano and voice pad
    • Nicolas Godin – guitars, bass and memory moog, wind chimes, glockenspiel and koto
    • Nicolas: This is my muse. Except she's not a redhead. It's very conceptual.
    • Jean-Benoit: It's about Perfume, the book by Patrick Süskind, it's about the cliches that redheads have a special smell. It's like a legend.
  12. "Night Sight" – 4:16
    • JB Dunckel – rhodes and synthesizers
    • Strings arranged and conducted by Joby Talbot
    • Nicolas: This is my favourite track on the album. It's very conceptual, because you have this Rhodes with four notes and a synth with seven notes and they have these circular patterns that occasionally merge. It's a massage for the mind!
    • Jean-Benoit: We wanted to do a sort of modern track with an irregular pattern on the keyboard. It's totally improvised. It sounds like a slow chemical reaction, like oxidisation.
Bonus tracks
  1. "The Duelist" (iTunes or OpenDisc bonus track) – 4:40
    • Charlotte Gainsbourg: vocals
    • Jarvis Cocker: vocals
    • JB Dunckel: piano, synthesizers, background voices
    • Nicolas Godin: drums, electric guitar, bass guitar, koto, tambourine
  2. "Crickets" (iTunes pre-order or OpenDisc bonus track) – 3:32
    • JB Dunckel: piano, rhodes, string keyboards
    • Nicolas Godin: CR70 beatbox, memory moog
    • Recorded, produced and mixed by AIR at Studio du Golfe,
    • Saint-Nom La Breteche, Eux-mêmes
  3. "Time Capsule" (Japan & United States iTunes pre-order & OpenDisc bonus track) – 4:20
    • JB Dunckel: piano, synthesizers, electronic percussion
    • Nicolas Godin: keyboards and bass



Additional musicians



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External links[edit]