Le Voyage Dans La Lune - ASTRALWERKS
FILTER Grade: 91%
By Ken Scrudato on February 6, 2012
Air burst into existence at a time when the zeitgeist had been virtually designed to embrace them: their sexy, insouciant internationalism jived perfectly with a Wallpaper magazine generation sipping designer cocktails on sleek, optimistic furniture. Now re-contextualized within the grim realities of 2012, it’s hardly a wonder they’d be abandoning the present for the hopefulness of the Belle Époque, revisiting a classic 1902 French film as the motivation for this fascinating new project.
The original Le Voyage Dans La Lune is a black-and-white silent film of but 14 minutes in length. Yet Georges Méliès’ creation is considered an influential masterpiece of proto-sci-fi, inspired by the writings of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Air were approached to compose an imaginary soundtrack in time for a debut at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and such was the rousing response that they set out to expand it into a full album.
And so it is that Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel have taken their own trip to the moon—though, technically, they already went there on 1998’s Moon Safari—and generously invited us along for the journey. Curiously, the constraints of a “soundtrack” have resulted in their most multifarious and unfettered work to date. A slinky bit of John Barry–meets–Pink Floyd titled “Astronomic Club” opens the voyage, followed by “Seven Stars,” the sort of dreamy, transporting pop, breathily intoned by guest vocalist Victoria Legrand (of Beach House), that Air have always been counted on to decorate our lives with. (“Who Am I Now,” featuring the vocal talents of Au Revoir Simone, is a similar stunner.)
From there, Le Voyage is as thrilling and replete with the unexpected as one might imagine a trip outside the Earth’s atmosphere would be. “Sonic Armada” is a totally freak-o prog-rock instrumental; a romantic turn of Chopin-like piano virtuosity, “Decollage,” then runs into “Cosmic Trip,” with its groovy, 1960s-version-of-the-future atmospherics.
In a way, it’s fitting that the messieurs from Versailles, home to the Sun King and a place of preposterous dreaming, should find themselves journeying back to the moon—a trip fit for only the most preposterous of dreamers.