Air Review: Take a Breath
Le Voyage dans la Lune
It has been a big year for Georges Méliès 1902 silent film Le Voyage dans la Lune. The film was featured prominently in Martin Scorsese’s visually stunning, but substantively drab film, Hugo. Le Voyage dans la Lune also has now been fully restored in order to be shown at film festivals. Finally, Méliès film serves as inspiration for French electronica duo Air’s latest release, which shares the same name as the film. I typically like to be at least somewhat familiar with an artist’s back-catalogue before I review a new release, but unfortunately I do not have the time to investigate previous releases by Air before this review. So please note that I am reviewing Le Voyage dans la Lune without much of a frame of reference as to what Air is all about. Here goes anyway.
As the opening track, “Astronomic Club” progressed, I became very concerned that I was going to be underwhelmed by atmospheric drivel for the next half hour. Luckily, like with many concept albums, “Astronomic Club”, is merely an introduction in tone, clearly stating that these are the sounds that are going to be used on this album, if not necessarily the arrangements. “Astronomic Club” transitions seamlessly into “Seven Stars”, arguably the finest track on Le Voyage dans la Lune. The layering of drums into base into piano before the vocals come in is flawless. This could have easily been a 15-minute track, slowly working in all the components, but Air manages not to over-indulge themselves. In addition, the guest vocals by Victoria Legrand after the interlude further beautify “Seven Stars”.
After “Seven Stars”, Le Voyage dans la Lune fades into a more instrumental-based experience, featuring tracks both trippy (“Cosmic Trip”, “Sonic Armada”) and soothing (“Moon Fever”). As a side note, “Moon Fever” sounds awfully like the music used in Final Fantasy VII when you spend any time at Aeris’ cottage in Midgar. Say what you want, but I’m giving bonus points to any artist that reminds me of the best videogame I’ve ever played.
The nice thing about Le Voyage dans la Lune was that even though it was predominately instrumental and inspired by a film, it was able to come out as more than a soundtrack. Instrumental music is automatically shelved in the soundtrack category in my mind, which is admittedly unfair, but true nevertheless. Avoiding this distinction doesn’t make Le Voyage dans la Lune a great album, but does earn it my respect and admiration. Every time the album seems to be coming to a lull, Air throws in a beautiful piano piece or electronic element to start picking up interest again. Moreover, Air manages to change paces frequently while maintaining continuity throughout.
If you are like me and have trouble getting into music without vocals, Air’s new album is something worth a try as a gateway to change your mind a bit. I recommend checking it out, and it is certainly more than a curiosity piece companion to the film of the same name (Check out the film below…pretty cool)
Can’t Miss: “Seven Stars”, “Parade”, “Lava”
Can’t Hit: Nothing is particularly poor, but the above 3 tracks stand above the rest.