La Voyage Dans La Lune is French filmmaker Georges Méliès’ classic film, translated in English to A Trip To The Moon. Released in 1902, not only was it ahead of its time, it is also considered the first science fiction film. Méliès used innovative filmmaking techniques to visualize man taking a trip to the moon decades before man actually took a trip to the moon. Originally Méliès made two versions of La Voyage Dans La Lune, a black and white print and a hand printed color version. The color version was believed to be lost for more than a century until it was found in Barcelona in 1993. Since then it has been restored; damage to the films required all 14,000 frames to be renewed and remastered. With the rerelease, electronic music duo Air was recruited to do the soundtrack.
In many ways Air is the perfect band for this endeavor; they’re from France, specialize in trippy cosmic electronica and have an obsession with outer space. The only marginalizing factor is whether or not their modernized electronics are going to fit alongside Méliès’ masterpiece. By enlisting relevant musicians with unique sounds the film-restorers are hoping to capture the interest with a new generation.
At this point I haven’t seen the restored film so I cannot say what the interaction is between the 1902 film and modern electronica but it is a very atmospheric and cosmic album from Air. Many of the songs are reminiscent of traveling through space. The track “Seven Stars” counts down like a rocket ship taking off, announcing an upbeat march shooting through Earth’s gravity, and with vocalist Victoria Legrand of Beach House it becomes such an encapsulating experience. “Sonic Armanda” blends the anxiousness of space travel in a systemic blender by mixing an insanity craving buzzing with a catchy whistle and a blusterous bass drum pounding; it’s a track reminiscent to the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey summarizing beauty, annoyance, confusion and panic. “Moon Fever” contemplates the deepest questions of the nothingness; who are you when you’re lost in space? “Comic Trip” and “Lava” are a perfect destination as the last two full length tracks; “Cosmic Trip” speeds you across the universe with the stars zipping by your face while “Lava” reminds you of the peacefulness of space and despite everything it is going to be a beautiful trip.
Air’s soundtrack is a cosmic trek. From start to finish it tells an ambient story of space travel and the destination of the unknown. Still, there is something missing. It falls into the natural faults of any original soundtrack; it is missing the movie. As an album it is too short. As an accompaniment piece it is out of context. Fans of Air’s psychedelic spine chilling electronica will like this album but needless to say its not the best spot to discover Air or La Voyage Dans La Lune.