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Air | Le Voyage Dans La Lune | Astralwerks

George Méliès – whose name you might recognize in assocation with the recent Martin Scorsese film Hugo – filmed the movie Le Voyage Dans La Lune in 1902. It’s often spoken of as the first sci-fi film ever, combining storylines inspired by Jules Verne and HG Wells with Méliès’ own distinctive design asthetic, and inspiring everything from a Smashing Pumpkins video (“Tonight Tonight”) to this very album.

While the film itself is a short (15 minutes in length, and included with Air’s album package as a hand-painted, colored version), Air has composed over half an hour of music to accompany it, perhaps inspired by imagery and imagination that are well past the bounds of the space that the physical film occupies.

Nicolas Godin and JB Dunckel, who make up the duo that is Air, spin a heady electronica mix here that’s actually quite worthy of Méliès’ creativity. Jazz and shoegaze blend with an alien-voiced hip-hop beat on opener “Astronomic Club,” conjuring up an immediate ambiance that’s both steampunk retro and spooky space-age. The piano-based, pensive “Seven Stars” and the all-too-brief “Retour sur Terre” are both more moody, leaving you off-guard for the more zippy, synthy patterns of “Parade.”

The second ‘act’ of Voyage seems to begin with the prettily-played “Moon Fever,” in which virtual eyes wide open can be heard looking toward every new horizon, and “Sonic Armada, ” “Who Am I Now?” and “Decollage” continue this audio theme of lunar exploration through echo-laden drumbeats and tentative grace notes. By the time we reach “Cosmic Trip,” this new, space-age atmosphere is firmly in-residence in your ears, and the short blippy interlude “Homme lune” and closer “Lava” help evoke what might be the end of the movie’s storyline, too.

While the album doesn’t coincide exactly with the film, it certainly is an apt accompaniment, and both pays homage to Méliès’ film work, and the evocative, mysterious thing that Travel To The Moon was back as the 1900s began. It’s not bad as a standalone listen, either. Kudos to Air.

To find out more about Air and their music, visit their official website.