Air - Le Voyage Dans La Lune

by Leonie Mercedes Rating:6 Release Date:2012-02-06

It seems Air's entire musical career has all been in preparation for this moment. Less than a year after NASA retires its space shuttle programme, sonic alchemists and space enthusiasts Air dream up a return to the moon for their seventh studio album.

Le Voyage Dans La Lune is inspired by the seminal 1902 film of the same name, a work by one of the fathers of modern cinema, originator of special effects and subject of the recent Scorsese flick Hugo, Georges Méliès. Rather than going all-out blockbuster sci-fi (see 2001 album 10 000 Hz Legend, widely pegged as prog rock while taking inspiration from the soundtrack to Spielberg's 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Air embraces the point of view of the film's iconic director, lovingly conjuring an analogue soundscape to encase the rocket on its journey into the eye of the moon.

It's unmistakably Air, with all the Gallic piano interludes and sultry bass lines we've known since their first lunar outing, 1998's Moon Safari, although not quite as seductive. Le Voyage... is a more sober, if playful, version of the duo, who have built up quite a reputation for producing by their own admission, 'bed albums'. Perhaps they're giving it a rest after the last LP, the erection section that was Love 2.

There's an unabashed 1960s feel that introduces itself on 'Parade', a collision of drums, church bells and wildly swinging Mellotron. Then suddenly we're airborne as the pulse of 'Moon Fever', harking back to a classical view of the planets, gently lifts us out of the atmosphere. Elsewhere 'Sonic Armada' conjures the imagery of Sgt Pepper, by no means a happy accident. The Beatles' record cover art was shown to have a remarkable resemblance to a recently restored colour print of Méliès' film, bringing us back to where we started in pleasing orbit.

'Who Am I Now?' is another highlight, a more sparsely orchestrated piece with sublimely glassy vocals lent by dream pop New Yorkers Au Revoir Simone, which elegantly alludes to the serene, if potentially perilous journey through space. A charming curiosity.

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