Air’s JB Dunckel breaks down the influences behind his new album
Outer space has been a longtime fascination of Jean-Benoît Dunckel. His band Air named their debut album Moon Safari, had singles titled "Kelly Watch the Stars" and "Surfing on a Rocket," and composed a new soundtrack to Georges Méliès' groundbreaking 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). He takes another trip to outer space with Carbon, his new solo album that explores ideas of humankind's place and insignificance in the grander scheme of the cosmos, as well as the titular element that is a building block of all life on earth.
There are the kind of lush, groovy mood pieces, laden in synths, strings, harpsichords and vocoder, you'd expect ("Zombie Park," "Sex UFO," "Space") but there's a strong krautrock influence, too, from Neu! ("Corporate Sunset") to Kraftwerk ("Dare"). Carbon also has more lyrical content than you might expect from the co-creator of single-line hits like "Sexy Boy." You can listen to the whole album below.
We asked JB to tell us a little more about the album. "The entire atmosphere of the album has been influenced by the sounds I recall hearing when I was a baby inside my mother’s body," he says. "I probably don’t remember that, but I have a souvenir of remembering that. It’s a feeling. Or an idea that I made up years after years."
As for the album's stark, black and white artwork, JB says it's "what I imagine a lab photograph of the inside of some material like a crystal would be. Like a microscopic photo of something."
JB goes on to break down some of Carbon's songs, and you can read that below.
JB DUNCKEL - INSPIRATIONS BEHIND 'CARBON'
“Spark,” the first track of the album, is influenced by the arpeggios of Debussy but in another way. The flavor of the arpeggio is more neutral and colder.
The concept of the song “Corporate Sunset” definitely comes from a feeling that I experienced in a car when you’re happy to ride or to travel in a great place that you love. There’s this feeling of being so free that I tried to reproduce in the track.
“Shogun” resonates the sounds of hotels in Japan, these incredible Zen, electronic Japanese sounds that you hear quite often. They are sweet happy childlike sounds.
"NATURALIS PRINCIPIA MUSICA"
“Naturalis Principia Musica” reminds me a lot of my Wednesday afternoons at the swimming pool because I would be floating in water, and I felt almost dazy with all this water around.
“Dare” was imagined when I was at the dentist and not having a good time. I don’t know why. That’s inspiration. Inspiration is not always happiness…
With “Space,” there’s something about cowboys, westerns and cactus. I saw cactus spiky sounds around silent lost valleys. I was hearing this music while I would work in these deserts and the cactus would sound spiky.