Review: Air – Le Voyage dans la lune
Published on February 17th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The buzz… Versailles duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel release seventh studio album as a soundtrack to the restored, hand-colored version of Georges Méliès film Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). Godin recently said in this interview with Music Radar…
“It was all done at our studio, Atlas again but we wanted to do something more home-made because the nature of the film is hand made. We knew that something clean would be in horrible taste against the film.
“When we saw the film for the first time in colour we really got all of these images of Sergeant Pepper in our mind. It was as if adding the colour had taken the movie from Paris 1902 to London 1967. We weren’t directly trying to sound like Sergeant Pepper, it was just as soon as we saw the colour on the movie, we knew it had to have that element. We explored this with the styles of the drums particularly.”
Sounds like… A charming piece of music, albeit one that doesn’t quite manage to hit the heights of Air’s first four albums (including prior soundtrack work The Virgin Suicides). Opener “Astronomic Club” comes stomping in on a pounding timpani that goes on to underpin synth waves and a Bond film-esque brass section, while the ensuing “Seven Stars” beguiles with gently chiming piano chords, twinkly keys and a rattling, rapid-fire rhythm section, then has a Discovery-era Daft Punk breakdown and throws in the beautiful and heavily effects-laden – and as such suitably celestial – voice of Victoria Legrand from Beach House.
“Retour sur Terre” is really rather stirring as thirty-second piano vignettes go, “Parade” flaunts a kind of melodrama the potential pomposity of which is pricked by various odd little hooks (notably a squiggly, ‘arcade game’ synth breakdown), and “Moon Fever” manages to take the main melodic thrust of Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here Right Now” and reimagine it as soft, felty, nocturnal ambience. It’s so lunar you can almost hear the Clangers.
“Sonic Armada” shuffles and shimmies along with militaristic drums, funky flutes and a weird buzzing noise, not to mention a string section that casts the whole thing as Bond in Outer Space (have they done that yet?), “Who Am I Now?” has Au Revoir Simone singing a sinister, alternately English and French nursery rhyme that includes the amusing French lesson banter of “Who am I now?/Je suis en fin (or enfant?)/Who am I now?/Il y a longtemps”, and “Cosmic Trip” does a good job of living up to its name, what with its swinging drum beat, quickfire jabs of monotone bass, twinkling xylophone and shrill, shimmering waves of strings that open it all up.
A female voice intoning “welcome to the astronomic club” and male voice talking about “an enormous mushroom cloud” give “Cosmic Trip” a kind of Lemon Jelly-ish feel, and final track “Lava” is brimming with triumph and wonder, wrong-footing the listener with a strange noise that at first sounds like a particular nasal saxophone but mercifully turns out not to be.
In short… It’s not their best, but it’s a fine thing to have around nonetheless. Doubtless seeing the film shall reveal more.