Air – Le voyage dans la lune

by Erica Moser (Journalism), published February 20th 2012

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

On previous releases, Air seemed an apt band name for French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. Yet on their seventh studio album, Le voyage dans la lune (“the trip to the moon”), they have rocketed through the air into space. And with greater altitude comes greater difficulties, some of which they have not overcome.

The inspiration for the album was a 16-minute silent film of the same name from 1902, by Georges Méliès. Air composed an original soundtrack, later expanded into this full-length concept album. Perhaps it would be more thematically sound paired with the film, but standing alone, the story of the space venture is not well fleshed-out.

One element that detracts from compositional unity is the opening tribal drum beats on the tracks “Astronomic Club,” “Seven Stars” and “Décollage.” The best way to describe Air’s genre on these songs is “ambient space tribal electronica.” It’s like transporting the TV show Firefly to the 80s and adding acid: there would still be intrigue and entertainment value, but it would be a bit over-the-top. An example of this is the kitschy spoken countdown in “Seven Stars.” The weakness of the following track, “Retour sur terre,” is that it sounds like the start of something beautiful but ends after 33 seconds, leaving disappointment and a lack of conclusiveness.

Another disappointment is the scarcity of Godin’s dreamy, ambient voice. On “Seven Stars,” he sings, “How long will it take you to reach the stars?” as if drifting through time and space without limits.

Air peaks in the middle of the album. The repetition of the piano part on “Moon Fever,” perhaps the strongest track, is not irritating, but allows the listener to become lost in a dreamlike state. “Sonic Armada” has a flute part that helps the song fall into a groove instead of becoming a hodgepodge, a fault of tracks such as “Parade” and “Lava.”

Overall, Le voyage dans la lune has many strong elements, but they are left unharnessed and therefore can be grandiose. The album is a decent one with its unique moments, but Air has aimed for the stars and has come up a bit short.

Recommended Tracks: Moon Fever, Sonic Armada, Who Am I Now?

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