I’ve tasked myself with doing this in my lunch break, so here goes… Air’s Moon Safari is one of those 90s coffee table albums along with Zero 7’s Simple Things and various others that helped bring the sound of downtempo and chill out to the masses (there are tonnes more but I’m against the clock here…)
Moon Safari was released in 1998 and produced three singles – All I Need, Sexy Boy and Kelly Watch the Stars. The band’s sound ticked some of the aforementioned chill out boxes with lush Fender Rhodes and acoustic guitars married with meek female vocals but Air dabbled in some proto electro clash and even nu-gaze, influencing fellow country-men M83 and others alike.
The song I want to look at is La Femme D’Argent (silver woman). I remember this being used as the background music in Heart 106 late night phone in show, and I always loved it.
La Femme D’Argent
I’ve tapped the tempo out as 80 bpm. The track starts with some running water sample but The intro drums are a sample from Edwin Starr’s 1974 Runnin’. I’ve taken the first two bars and done very little else too it. Certainly the original would have been sampled from vinyl likely into an Akai sampler of some sorts, so some Bit Crushing to emulate the lower sample rate and bit depth could help but for now I’m happy with where it’s at:
Let’s turn our attention to those sexy electric pianos. It’s far more improvisational than I’m letting on so I’m just going to transcribe the block chords. I’m actually score them a full two octaves higher than they sound as that makes them much easier to read, but be aware you’ll need to transpose:
…and here the piano roll. I’ve tried to make the voicings as simple as possible:
Logic has a perfectly capable Electric Piano sound in it, I’ve opted for the Suitcase Mk I model, increasing the Bass EQ and adding some Phasing, Chorus and Tremolo to make it sound extra #lush.
The Rhodes is joined by some Farfisa-like strings. We can get close with Kontakt’s Retro Machines library, using the String Melody II > Melody Orchestra patch. I’ve adjusted the filter type from Notch to Low Pass and brought the cutoff frequency down as well as increase the attack and release times.
Now on to the iconic-bass line. To my ears it sounds like a Rickenbacker but again we can lean on Logic’s stock plug-ins. I’ve opted for the EXS24 patch Motown Bass, which is suitable round and warm.
I couldn’t get the lowest notes to sound on an ordinary bass guitar so the below tab is an octave higher than sounds:
Okay let’s mix this. I’ve sent everything bar the bass to a medium sized plate reverb and adjusted the level to sit. I’ve placed some Logic Compressor on the master with some pseudo SSL compression (Classic VCA) and we’re done… It’s not perfect but not bad for an hours’ work!
N.B I ran slightly over an hour
If you’ve enjoyed this deconstruction please check out some of the other ones I’ve done on this site: