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October 22, 2009

Book Notes - G. Willow Wilson ("Air Vol. 2: Flying Machine")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

In Air Vol. 2: Flying Machine, author G. Willow Wilson continues her adventure series that features an acrophobic flight attendant, terrorism, Amelia Earhart, Aztec power sources, a world running out of fossil fuel and mysterious forgotten lands. Wilson knows how to write into her story arc, and Air surprises and delights with both its ingenuity and plot twists, and always leaves the reader waiting for the next installment.

In her own words, here is G. Willow Wilson's Book Notes music playlist for her graphic novel, Air Vol. 2: Flying Machine:

AIR: A Playlist

1. "Flight IC 408" State of Bengal

Techno is not dead; it lives on in the Asian Underground. I actually used the title of this song in AIR #2--Blythe and Co fly on India Airlines Flight 408 when they head to Narimar, a country that doesn't exist.

2. "Halcyon + On + On" Orbital

Halcion is the name of the prescription medication to which Blythe is addicted. Appropriately enough, this song is a lot like a pleasant, benzodiazepine-induced stupor. More importantly, it's so airy and ethereal that it's always reminded me of flight.

3. "I Can't See New York" Tori Amos

A 9/11 song as only Tori's lush surrealism can deliver. It's about falling out of an airplane, as Blythe and Zayn do in the first issue of the series. This is not a song about patriotism or heroism, but about the universal human fear of an uncontrolled fall.

4. "Kingdom" Dave Gahan

If you're one of the people who can't get enough Depeche Mode, fear not: lead singer Dave Gahan has put out two solo albums. This song is one of his best: a post-new-wave rant against God-slash-longing for that hidden kingdom that is so hard not to believe in. As Mrs. Battacharya observes in AIR, longing is the highest human emotion--higher even than love. Not much worth adding to that.

5. "Know Your Enemy," Green Day

Moving on to more lighthearted fare--okay, first, a disclaimer: I was a Green Day fan way before they were cool. I'm talking Dookie-era. So I feel unashamed including what has essentially become a Top 40 single. The refrain of this song--Do you know your enemy?--is a convenient summary of AIR's entire political shtick.

6. "Daylight" Matt and Kim

Forget that stupid rum commercial. This song is awesome sans mojito. It manages to be happy, sad and funny all at once, and captures the rootlessness that is at the heart of AIR.

7. "Magenta" Hooverphonic

Back when hipsters were actually hip, they were unafraid of music that utilized cellos and electropop with zero irony. This is such a song by such a band. Molded around some weird meditation tape--you know, the kind that asks you to envision yourself melting into a puddle of luminescent orange goo--it is almost as trippy as the average issue of this series. I used to listen to it while walking around my neighborhood market in Cairo, which probably explains a lot about my state of mind.

8. "Major Tom" Heaven Below

This is an unapologetically hard-rock cover of the Peter Schilling song about David Bowie's errant astronaut based on Elton John's Rocket Man. Got that? Awesome. Anyway, the bass on this version is otherworldly, which is why I prefer it to the Schilling original. It's another song about falling out of the sky and living, through some miracle, to tell about it.

10. "Maps" Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Love, distance, nomadic relationships, remade maps, an intelligent yet desultory girl: yup, this is a song for AIR if there ever was one.

11. "Duden" Natacha Atlas/Talvin Singh

If you're not listening to Natacha Atlas, you should be. This Transglobal Underground alumna fuses traditional Arabic melodies with synth and all kinds of crazy stuff. Duden is a wonderful remix by Talvin Singh that focuses on one word of the song's refrain: dunya, which means 'the temporal world' in Arabic. Dunya is not usually something positive from a spiritual standpoint, but this song is all about elevating the mundane.

12. "Can't Take It In" Imogen Heap

A tune for bursting out in ecstatic plainsongs of joy. I first got on the Imogen Heap train when she was half of Frou Frou, and I've never regretted it. This song is about overstimulation, about seeing the world with hyperreal clarity, and that sensation is one of my primary guiding lights while writing this series.

G. Willow Wilson and Air Vol. 2: Flying Machine links:

the author's website

Crave review
Graphic Novel Reporter review
Under the Radar review
Worcester Magazine review

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks

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