French electronica/rock duo Air is nearly finished with its new studio album, which group member JB Dunckel tells Billboard.com should be released in early 2007 via Astralwerks.

French electronica/rock duo Air is nearly finished with its new studio album, which group member JB Dunckel tells Billboard.com should be released in early 2007 via Astralwerks. First up, however, is Dunckel's self-titled solo debut under the moniker Darkel, which Astralwerks will issue on Sept. 19.

"Most of the tracks contain some piano, and the chords are on the black keys most of the time, because I like the sound of that," Dunckel says of his inspiration for the album name. "Also, it was made very late at night. You have this attraction for the blackness, the space."

Dunckel has been working on the material for a year-and-a-half and put it to tape in his Paris apartment in the 17th arrondissement. "I know I'm not a very good guitar or bass player, so I asked two of my friends do to the bass lines and a little bit of the guitar," he says with a laugh, adding that eight tracks feature his vocals, while two are "sort of" instrumentals. "Most of the instruments are acoustic, but I like to treat them and process them," he says.

The artists says the track "TV Destroy" is "is about destroying your TV when it's getting on your nerves," while "My Own Sun" reflects his belief that "inside your heart you have your own sun shining. Sometimes, in life, you are in a situation where you have to count only on your self. But you feel a force inside you, like a sun."

As for Air's as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2004's "Talkie Walkie," Dunckel would say only, "It's another direction, for sure. It's different, but it's Air. We like to change all the time. If we don't change our sound, we'll be dead. People who like our music like to discover new things. They're curious. They have some cultural musical background also, so they want to be surprised."

"There are some guests, but we're changing everything at the last minute, so it's too early to speak about that," he says, adding that he and partner Nicolas Godin are still discerning "the main core of the album. There's always a common theme or subject in all the songs, and in the sound. We just have to find out what it is. It requires a lot of self-analysis to do that."

As previously reported, Dunckel and Godin wrote the music for French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg's upcoming album, "5:55," due in September. They also contributed a new mix of a previously unreleased piece of music to a key scene in Sofia Coppola's new film "Marie Antoinette," which opens Oct. 20 in U.S. theaters.

"It's really discrete," Dunckel says of the piece. "I think Sofia's making a special soundtrack, but I don't know if we're on it."