Air — Reflecting on the 10th Anniversary of “Le voyage dans la lune”

Air — Reflecting on the 10th Anniversary of “Le voyage dans la lune”

The Album First Came Out on February 6, 2012

Feb 07, 2022 By Austin Saalman
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Over a century following the film’s initial release, a hand-colored restoration of director Georges Méliès’ influential 1902 short film Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. This visually arresting, bewitchingly surrealist critique of European imperialism made plenty of waves among modern critics, but the phenomenal score by acclaimed French musical duo Air featured alongside it stands to this day as one of pop music’s most ambitious efforts.

Released on February 6, 2012, Air’s second soundtrack album didn’t quite reach the golden echelons of 2000’s The Virgin Suicides, but Le voyage dans la lune was met with positive critical reception, its music showcasing the duo’s creative evolution over the previous decade. Percussive opener “Astronomic Club” carries within itself a certain chic cosmic bombast, the promise of a national flag to be planted, while extraterrestrial dream pop jam “Seven Stars” benefits from a guest appearance by Beach House’s Victoria Legrand, whose dream-swept vocals carry the listener like some beguiled Dr. Bowman far beyond the boundaries of time and self. Space rocker “Parade” places some sweat upon the brow, unfurling into one of Air’s signature dance numbers, halted only by the cinematic “Moon Fever,” whose eerie keys suggest a trapped astronaut’s hallucinatory madness. The enthralling “Sonic Armada” and “Cosmic Trip” recall some of Air’s mid-’00s output—sensually synthesized and danceable, but still spacey enough as to feel experimental in style.

Album standouts, however, are the chilling “Who Am I Now?,” an intoxicating collaboration with Brooklyn indie pop trio Au Revoir Simone, the aforementioned “Seven Stars,” and closing instrumental “Lava,” whose warm and romantic gentility harkens back to Air’s glorious Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie days. The track’s utter absurdity is rendered even more so by the utilization of a wandering banjo, folding against a buzzing synth backdrop, as though the very notes will eventually bend and disintegrate into the vacuous reach of the cosmos itself.

While less groundbreaking than previous Air albums, Le voyage dans la lune remains a most prominently unique work of art. With its mercurial sexuality and vast cosmic soundscapes, Le voyage dans la lune makes weekenders of its listeners, guiding them along onto grand lunar honeymoons. The restored film is also recommended, Air’s marvelous score given stunning visual context. That said, much like the duo’s Virgin Suicides soundtrack, Le voyage dans la lune is more than capable of standing on its own as a solid pop recording, friendly even to those unfamiliar with the film. The music creates a seemingly boundless journey of the mind through lush clouds of gaseous faux-’70s fantasia and sultry electropop astral projections—a truly striking effort, not diminished in the least by the passage of a decade.

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