Release Date: Feb 7, 2012
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Soundtracks, Stage & Screen, Ambient Pop
Between Daft Punk's astronaut gear and Air's analog synth-driven Moon Safari, French electronic musicians have historically shown great nostalgia towards the old space age. Continuing the trend is this soundtrack to a marvelously restored color version of George Melies' pioneering 1902 film about space travel (recently re-canonized in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo). At 31 minutes, this set is double the film's length, so alongside score instrumentals like the twitchy trip-hop jaunt "Sonic Armada" is non-film filler like "Seven Stars," a piano-driven countdown with Beach House's Victoria LeGrande.
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..
It's a neat trick that Air began their albums with a trip to the moon via Moon Safari and returned to it with Le Voyage Dans La Lune, the expanded version of the duo's score to Georges Méliès' 1912 sci-fi classic. It's a perfect project for Air; Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin's sound has always had a spacey quality, and film music has been a vital component of their work. Le Voyage Dans La Lune presents an interesting challenge for Air in that most of their other scores and soundtracks have been for films with more modern settings (even the '70s kitsch they subverted and romanticized in their Virgin Suicides soundtrack).
What marriage of film and music could be more perfect? Evidence: Air, the pioneering ambient French duo, released a debut album called Moon Safari way back in 1998. Ever since, they’ve reveled in an assortment of soundtrack work, spicing up the acclaimed projects of director Sofia Coppola (Just imagine the masterful Lost in Translation without “Alone in Kyoto. ”) For their first project in three years, these slightly mysterious mood-setters provide musical accompaniment to a restored version of Georges Méliès’ seminal silent 1902 sci-fi flick A Trip to the Moon.
In 1902 French director Georges Méliès released the short film Le Voyage Dans la Lune (aka A Trip to the Moon). It is considered to be the first sci-fi movie, in which, over the course of 14 minutes a group of scientists land on the moon and fight mushroom monsters, before returning home safely. Over a century later, the film has been given a complete visual restoration, and a new soundtrack thanks to iconic French duo Air.
The hip-hop drums, echoing timpani, intermittent horns, piano, and synthesized chanting that start off Air’s first record in three years are immediately transcendental, energizing, and captivating. As “Astronomic Club” continues, layers are added then taken away—it’s hauntingly beautiful. The guitar cries then cuts in deep before fading into the ethereal distance.
AirLe Voyage Dans La Lune[Astralwerks; 2012]By Andrew Halverson; February 9, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGAccompaniments have become an interesting trend over the last year or two. Candy Claws' 2010 record Hidden Lands rooted its inspiration completely in the Richard M. Ketchum book The Secret Life of the Forest where some lines were taken directly from the book.
Review Summary: 14 years after Moon Safari the French comedown duo finally get to explore the lunar surfaceIt should come as no surprise that Georges Melies’ acclaimed Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) would arrive in the same year as man’s attempt to reach the farthest points of the as-yet, undiscovered regions of the world: the 1902 Discovery Expedition. Here was a world now fully wrapped up in the wide-eyed wonderment of a new century, pre world war and economic breakdown, fresh from the marvels and discoveries of the industrial revolution, ready and waiting for the technological marvels earlier hinted at to be put to practical use. Melies’ film captured the imagination of a world eager to explore beyond its boundaries, to push the pursuit of the unknown one step further beyond the previously unimaginable.
It may pale in comparison to the BBC-led Dickens hysteria which dominated our televisions over the festive period, but you could say (perhaps tenuously) that there's been something of a low-key George Méliès revival going on. The legendary French film-maker, renowned for his innovative techniques, is a pivotal character in Martin Scorsese's Oscar nomination leading film Hugo. Following closely in the footsteps of Marty are purveyors of Gallic sophisto-pop Air with Le Voyage Dans La Lune (or A Trip to the Moon), designed as a soundtrack to the long lost hand-coloured version of the iconic 1902 Méliès film of the same name, the one we all know thanks to Billy Corgan.
We could start this review by saying: "It's not every band who can make an album inspired by French director George Méliès's silent 1902 film A Trip to the Moon." But technically, every band could, if they wanted. They would just be a bit rubbish. Especially Viva Brother.Unlike Viva Brother, however, Gallic duo Air are almost genetically suited to the task – them being French and space-obsessed.
In May of 1996, the Smashing Pumpkins unveiled the end result of three days’ filming — a music video for “Tonight, Tonight”, greatly inspired by Georges MéliÃ¨s’ silent 1902 science-fiction film landmark, Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). In 2011, a colored and restored edit of MéliÃ¨s’ original masterwork was made widely available to numerous festivals. French electronic music duo, Air, taking inspiration leaps forward, would soon produce an appropriate sonic companion so ethereal, any selenographer worth his weight in space could essentially disappear inside of it.
Notions of cool figure strongly in the world of Jean-Bénoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin of Air. "Philip Glass is really harmonious to me: the harmonies are really simple, really amazing, really cool," said Dunckel, in a recent interview with the pair for Pitchfork's 5-10-15-20 series. "They were using guitars and bass but in a mechanical way, as if they were using a sequencer," said Godin, of the Strokes' first album, before adding: "That was very cool." The members of Air have always been immaculately turned-out, both in person and on record.
Did the internet ruin Air's chance to become one of the biggest bands in the world? Think back to 1998 (a frighteningly long time ago now), when tracks from their debut album Moon Safari were everywhere - you couldn't turn on BBC1 without coming across a snippet of Talisman or Ce Matin La (Sexy Boy was, perhaps, just a little too obvious), making them sort of the Coldplay of their day (but far less annoying). Then, the Napster-induced democratisation of music distribution happened and suddenly the obscure spaced out 70s lounge music that the duo had expended so much effort on lovingly recreating was almost completely up for grabs. Was it that? Or was it the fact that they had seemingly balked at the success that they had achieved and retreated to the realm of the (slightly) more obscure, following up their breakthrough with the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's adaptation of The Virgin Suicides (surely one of the few occasions where a soundtrack album was more eagerly anticipated than the film it came from) and the glossy prog of 10,000 Hz Legend? Or maybe, after Jean Michel Jarre's success, the world still wasn't quite ready for another pair of French superstar synth-fiddlers? Le Voyage dans la Lune, the duo's seventh album (depending on how you're counting them) was initially planned as a live accompaniment to a recently restored hand-tinted print of Georges Méliès' still-extraordinary silent short of the same name (anybody who saw Martin Scorsese's handsome, if child-boring, epic Hugo will be aware of the film's curiously moving powers) However, while the visuals are ravishing and the intentions are good, truthfully, the record looks set to merely continue the band's career trajectory of the past decade; it being another elegantly constructed, but ultimately inessential work.
Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage Dans la Lune could easily be not just the genesis of non-documentary cinema as it is known today, but also its culmination as an ultimate visual experience: light composing the illusion of motion, chemically-induced photo-realism drawing discernible objects and characters in representational spaces, moving pictures showing well-defined actions and establishing a concise narrative. Méliès, an illusionist of kinetic imagination, pioneered one of the definitive cultural forms of the twentieth century, and despite its foundation on the theatrical domain, the film would definitely help to establish a new form of watching (linear, sequential, ordered) and educate a recently-born spectator into these forms. Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel are illusionists too: vaudeville entertainers for trendy lounge areas where they conjure too-perfectly molded, sophisticated fluffy sounds, throwing in plenty of analog and digital sonic tricks built around soft prog-rock structures to construct a light, gallant style — unpretentious music, very effective in its divertissement purposes.
Perhaps the ‘most Air’ collection the French pair has ever mustered. Ian Wade 2012 A classic black-and-white short, silent film by revered French director Georges Méliès from 1902, Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon) is rightfully considered one of the most important pieces in cinema history, itself inspired by HG Wells and Jules Verne. In the years since its unveiling, the film has influenced (read: been nicked by) a whole range of talented artists and musicians… and The Mighty Boosh.
OF MONTREAL “Paralytic Stalks” (Polyvinyl). Too much information, verbal and sonic, is standard practice for Kevin Barnes, the songwriter and studio obsessive behind Of Montreal. His lyrics pile on the polysyllables and metaphors: “Love is not a debtor’s prison, you don’t have to serve a ….
Having scored Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, and with several of their songs used in other films, Air are no strangers to the soundtrack world. Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon, in English) was composed as a score to the digital reissue of the silent masterpiece of the same name by French cinema pioneer Georges Méliès. Filmed in 1902, it was one of the earliest movies ever made and one of the very first to involve special effects.