The first time I saw Air live was in 2002, when they played the second day of Portuguese festival Sudoeste, following Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and preceding The Chemical Brothers. They were then at the very height of their fame, with Moon Safari and The Virgin Suicides OST behind them and Talkie Walkie still two years away. Their performance must have been one of the most magical moments of my adolescence -- regardless of the drugs I was or wasn't taking back then.

The thing is, Air is magical no matter what, no matter where, whatever your age or the circumstances you happen to be in. The French duo's music seems to behave like an instant ambient-changer, as if you've suddenly opened a door to an alternate, perfect universe. The fact that they have now decided to put twenty years of their excellent oeuvre in a single release is admirable, especially since it allows people who are still unfamiliar with their music to have a remarkable starting point that will enable them to discover the duo before deciding where to begin album-wise.

Twentyears is a double-CD, with the first one being your essential best-of. An interesting particularity of this "part I" is that the tracks are not organised by year or release: it opens with Moon Safari's 'La Femme D'Argent', but then jumps directly to Talkie Walkie's delicate 'Cherry Blossom Girl' before returning to another hit from their 1998 LP with 'Kelly Watch The Stars', and so forth. These dynamics seem to follow an internal logic pattern, more focused on the way the ensemble flows than on some sort of chronological order -- which makes perfect sense if you remember it was band members Godin and Dunckel who personally supervised the tracklisting. The compilation obviously focuses on their early golden tetralogy (Moon Safari, Virgin Suicides, 10000 Hz, and Talkie Walkie), although it doesn't forget neither their debut Premiers Symptômes nor their imagined soundtrack for Meliès' Voyage Dans La Lune.

CD number 2 is a collection of rarities and previously unreleased tracks, especially fan-oriented or, in case you were somehow a stranger to Air's music before (shame on you!), as a natural continuity to the best-of. It includes gems like 'Au Fond Du Rêve Doré' [feat. Françoise Hardy], 'The Duelist' [feat. Jarvis Cocker and Charlotte Gainsbourg] from the Pocket Symphony sessions, as well as the track they wrote for Roger Corman's documentary Corman's World, 'Roger Song' and two lives. Due to its immense diversity in terms of approach and styles, the rarities CD is a brilliant way of letting us into the multiplicity of colours and shapes that is Air's music.

By being a heavily cinematographical band, either due to their numerous connections to the film world or the visual nature of their sound, Air have the magnificent ability of creating beautiful, timeless images with their music alone. So this compilation comes as a cinematic epic that gathers their most vivid tracks, awaking your synesthetic self in a rêverie. Welcome to the journey of a lifetime.