In 1902 Georges Méliès, pushed the boundaries of silent film, with groundbreaking special effects taking the viewer, beyond terra firma, in the first science fiction movie "Le Voyage dans le Lune". It is fitting that 110 years later, musicians at the forefront of French music were given the task of scoring this seminal piece of cinematic history, for its 2012 digital re-release. The themes of space, and the moon have never been far away from electronicist duo Air's music. But they were not only the obvious choice for the job. They were the appropriate choice for the job. Méliès, would surely approve of his work being entrusted to fellow stargazers with big imaginations backed by wit, intellect, and an inbuilt sensitivity to his original production.
Air have expanded their 16 minute score into a full blown album. From the opening notes of "Astronomic Club" it is clear that Air, have taken this task, extremely seriously. What follows is an intricate collection of songs and instrumentals. It becomes apparent as the album progresses that there has been a meticulous and purposeful juxtaposition of modern and classical instruments "Seven Seas" mixes old-world instruments with futuristic electronic bleeps. While the lyrics chart a suitably ephemeral trip to the moon. The live instrumentation, especially the drums and bass, give this track an industrial feel.
"Parade" is a swaggering post-rock mix of guitar licks and throaty keyboard riffs. While "Moon Fever" echoes the classic sound of Bowie and Eno's Berlin collaborations. One of the albums standout tracks "Sonic Armada" is jammed out around an intergalactic pixie melody. Once again the bass playing is exceptional as is the keyboard wizardry.
The deathly lullaby "Who Am I Now" featuring vocals by Au Revoiur Simone, is the least pleasing of the collection. "Cosmic Trip" sees Air creating more familiar sonic architecture, with driving basslines and hectic background bell melodies colluding, before a familiar voice emerges from the vibrant haze. Final track "Lava" is reminiscent of Pink Floyd in their magical heyday. Thus concluding a fitting musical tribute and companion piece to "Le Voyage dans le Lune".
Soundtrack albums are often hit and miss containing too many 30 sec tracks which are paramount to the movie, but ultimately destined to be skipped over by the listener. Thankfully Air, have avoided this pitfall and the album contains only two such tracks, which are beautiful. The quality of this collection suggests that Air shall be in top form for their next album proper.