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Air – Le Voyage Dans la Lune
Buy Le Voyage Dans la Lune
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a pretty bold assumption – soundtracks to films made in 1902 aren’t exactly your thing. I’ll take this opportunity to be gosh darn audacious enough to make yet another assumption about you – you think Air are awesome. And you are, as always, completely right: soundtracks to films made before my Grandparents were born are totally bogus, but Air are totally unbogus (unbogus is the opposite to bogus – I made it up myself). This seemingly puts this crazy album in some kind of grey area in which I need to actually listen to it before making a judgement about it. That’s not how I normally do reviews, but here it goes…
On consideration, it makes complete sense that Air would be commissioned to produce the soundtrack to the restoration of Georges Méliès’ iconic Le Voyage Dans La Lune. For starters, both Méliès and Air are exceedingly French. Moreover, Air make music which sounds like it comes from (a very French part of) Space, the perfect accompaniment to Méliès’ depiction of the madcap antics of a 19th Century trip to the moon. To top it all off, Air love synths, and in my experience, trips to the moon are generally accompanied by synths.
Of course, if you come to this expecting another Air album consisting entirely of traditionally structured songs, you will be sorely disappointed: this album, obviously, feels like a soundtrack. This is most notable on opener ‘Astronomic Club’, which was clearly written to create an atmosphere for the accompanying images rather than get into any kind of groove of its own. However, that isn’t to say the music found on Le Voyage… is a disappointment: ’Parade’ switches restlessly from a jolly hook to a cascade of computer-esque bleeps and bloops, and ‘Sonic Armada’ features a playful bassline being imitated by a friendly lil’ woodwind instrument while a synth has a seizure nearby (in a good way). ‘Cosmic Trip’, another standout instrumental, comprises of energetic drums and lively bass with a sprinkling of staccato synthesiser and xylophone. ‘Seven Stars’ is another exceptional cut, featuring vocals from Beach House’s Victoria Legend which are as warm and ghostly as a haunted radiator.
This is, of course, quite a deviation from Air’s last release, 2009’s Love 2, an album so suave it could have only possibly been recorded entirely in tuxedos. Le Voyage is more schizophrenic, more demanding on the listener, and simply less accessible than their 2009 effort, but you’ll only be disappointed if you expected anything different. For those who weren’t, this is a intriguing album worthy of a few curious listens, but ultimately no more. However, I doubt Air intended anything more than this, as the album’s primary function is as the soundtrack to a film rather than a stand-alone piece of music.