Air Drummer Calls Duo's Next Album 'A Masterpiece'

Release of Moon Safari follow-up likely later this year, he says.

A musician working on Air's highly anticipated follow-up to their acclaimed 1998 debut LP, Moon Safari, called the group's upcoming album "a masterpiece."

Former Redd Kross drummer Brian Reitzell, who recorded with Air on their recent "Virgin Suicides" score and drums with the French duo live, said he has worked in studios in Los Angeles and Paris on the album, which has been in production since November.

"It's very different from Moon Safari and nothing like the soundtrack," Reitzell said. "[The 'Virgin Suicides' score] was Air working incredibly quickly. There weren't a lot of arrangements. This new record, every song is a contained work of art. But every song is a song. There's no art damage."

Reitzell said the album would likely be released early next year, but Astralwerks, Air's U.S. label, said there is no release date yet.

"They work different than anyone else. They've spent eight months in the studio, not just writing, but recording," Reitzell said. "They're very French. In America, when you're in the studio, time is money; we'll rarely take the time to go out and eat. Those guys are like, 'I'm not feeling anything. Let's go to the cafe and talk.' They're really slow, but there's no bullsh-- because they only do stuff that's real."

Reitzell said the duo, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, have a rule against re-using instruments they have recorded with on past records.

"With Moon Safari, they use a lot of vocoder and Fender Rhodes [keyboards], and then when they did the score they wanted to explore other instruments," Reitzell said. "They're constantly reinventing themselves."

Air also have a policy of only recording songs for their album and not finishing music for B-sides, Reitzell said.

"The thing about Air is they'll work on a song for two months and then go, 'Forget it,' and throw it away," he said. "It's insane, but I respect them."

Air formed in 1995 out of the breakup of Orange, a French alternative band Dunckel founded with DJ/producer Alex Gopher. The duo followed with several singles — including "Modular" (RealAudio excerpt), released on the UK label Mo' Wax, and "Casanova 70" (RealAudio excerpt), on the respected Paris imprint Source — which established their distinctive style of jazzy electronic pop.

Air released Moon Safari in 1998 to rave reviews and scored a moderate hit with "Sexy Boy" (RealAudio excerpt), which even crossed over into MTV video rotation. (Sonicnet.com's parent company, Viacom, also owns MTV.) Premiers Symptomes, a collection of Air's early singles, was reissued last year by Astralwerks.

Reitzell recently released the soundtrack to "Logan's Sanctuary," an imaginary sequel to the 1976 sci-fi classic "Logan's Run," which he recorded with the Moog Cookbook's Roger Manning Jr.