Air – Le Voyage Dans la Lune

6 Feb

Air took us to the moon with their first LP, Moon Safari, and 14 years later they bring us back with Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon).

I knew the title sounded familiar and it wasn’t until I saw the cover that I remembered my History of Film course in college.  Le Voyage Dans la Lune (which can be seen here in its entirety, and it’s all of 13 minutes long so I highly encourage you to watch it) is an early, groundbreaking film directed by the ingenious Georges Méliès in 1902.  Méliès was a French illusionist that arguably invented special effects with his “camera tricks,” mat shots, stop action, etc…

Air’s music has often been referred to as “cinematic,” a term which typically annoys me when used as an adjective for music, but it’s difficult to argue here.  After all, their second release in 2000, The Virgin Suicides, was an original soundtrack to the film by Sofia Coppola.  Unbeknownst to me, a restored hand-colored version of Le Voyage Dans la Lune debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last year with a new soundtrack by none other than Air.

Then I got nervous.  After hearing/seeing the Giorgio Moroder re-release of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis I wanted to puke.  From then on I was weary about any soundtracked re-release of silent era movies, especially sci-fi.  Air’s soundtrack to Le Voyage Dans la Lune has been criticized by some for its somewhat shy length (it clocks in at a mere 31:14 minutes) and the absence of gorgeous outer space compositions on their proper albums like “Kelly Watch the Stars” and “Surfing on a Rocket” on Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie respectivley.  It is true, but it is also unfair.

Air’s Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel were commissioned to do a soundtrack for an iconic film which calls for focus, a bowing away from the limelight and an obligatory homage.  Air treats Le Voyage Dans la Lune respectfully and makes the colored reissue even more of a treat.  The soundtrack more than doubles the film’s playtime and tracks like the glimmering “Seven Stars” voiced by Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and the adventurous, snare-snapped “Sonic Armada” show that Air can ice a 110-year-old science fiction cake.

Noteworthy Tracks: “Seven Stars,” “Parade,” “Sonic Armada” and “Lava”

Rating: ***1/2

Now check out a colorized clip of the original film with Air’s “Sonic Armada” playing in the background!

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