Air – Le Voyage Dans Le Lune
Le Voyage Dans La Lune roughly translated as ‘A Trip to the Moon’ marks the seventh Air album and their second attempt down the soundtrack route following on from their highly acclaimed Virgin Suicides soundtrack. As demonstrated by the cover featuring the moon with the face and the rocket in its eye, the central theme is a re-imagining of the classic 1920’s silent film of the same name with the album designed to be the soundtrack.
It has been a while since we have heard from Air, more specifically since their opinion dividing 2009 album, Love 2. The French duo made up of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel have taken on quite the challenge by messing with the classics and to be honest, the band have been constantly living in the shadow of their transcendent albums Moon Safari and The Virgin Suicides soundtrack.
The album opens with the orchestral hip hop sounding Astronomic Club and from the get go, it is clear that this is no ordinary Air dream-pop album. The tracks dark chanting, thunderous drums, grand strings and random noises make the it more of a summary for the rest of the album ahead. The first real ‘song’ comes in the form of Seven Stars, featuring Victoria Legrand from Beach House on guest vocals. It is a fast paced track that does recall some previous Air tracks but ultimately is an entirely new beast that is not without its faults, with the main one being the ridiculous cliche countdown that sounds like a slightly more humanised version of HAL if he was programmed to host Deal or No Deal. However, the drumming and the catchy piano riff do manage to save the track along with Legrand’s dream-like reverb performance ending the track.
On a musical level the album does get rather erratic from here on in with the thirty second odd Retour Sur Terre seeming to be placed far too early in the track listing. Parade is a catchy track at first with its rim shot drums and prominent guitar reeling you in but ultimately you will wind up skipping over this and the irrelevant Moon Fever. The album does show signs of life with Sonic Aramada, the track really does stand up to the Air back catalogue with its Frank Zappa-esque organ lines and sprawling use of modern technology creating soundscapes that really fit in with the rest of the tracks feel and takes it to new places. A definite foot tapper and album highlight.
Who Am I Know features dream pop electronica act Au Revoir Simone and it is a track that does not fit in with the rest of the album at all. On an album format this sparse forest-like track would fit in but in a dedicated space film soundtrack it does not work. The groups contributions though are a highlight. With the album nearly complete after a mere twenty minutes, the rest of it is really all over the place with no real highlights Cosmic Trip is listenable with its odd beat and grand string section but is ultimately not that enjoyable. While the albums closer Lava is almost pure French pop that recalls moments from Yann Tiersen’s Amelie soundtrack for the first part then spirals out into a psychedelic banjo jam. It is an odd choice to end the album but it is most definitely an interesting one.
Like Daft Punks Tron Legacy attempt Air’s Le Voyage Dans La Lune does, in the grand scheme of things fall on its face. It is far too convoluted and definitely does not seem as well thought out or planned, especially in comparison to the mastermind of the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. It feels like a lazy attempt at grandeur and perhaps tries too hard to be this masterful work of art that it is clearly attempting to be.
It is not without its moments though, and does show some more than welcome attempts into the Air catalogue. However, in the day and age of being able to download individual songs as opposed to buying whole albums this album will have life through that method. Not worth the whole $16.99 but there are definitely a few $1.69 tracks worth looking into for new and old Air fans alike.