Air takes a(nother) trip to the moon

Pitchfork gives it 5.7 out of 10. Filter gives it a 9.1, SPIN an 8/10, Entertainment Weekly a perfect 10 and Uncut a measly 4/10. The reviews for this are all over the board, but the overall average (according to Metacritic.com) from 25 reviews is 7.3.

If you had played this album for me blind I would never have guessed it to be an album created by the French duo AIR. It’s an electronic album that sounds organic. It is a space-rock album with serious overtones of 70’s prog and Kraftwerk/Jean Michel Jarre soundscapes. It is also a soundtrack album that doesn’t sound like a soundtrack album and  somehow manages to sound retro and modern at the same time. And, if you hurry, you can pick it up with a bonus DVD of the 1902 silent sci-fi film of the same name. The album has a bit of Air’s trademark “Prozac vision of the 1970’s” that was so prevalent on their breakthrough Moon Safari, but this is a more urgent and menacing sounding record.

AIR was asked to provide a modern soundtrack for this landmark film (by silent film maverick Georges Melies—recently immortalized in the film HUGO) and they took it very seriously. The film is only 15 minutes in length but AIR has crafted a tight, 31 minute version for mass consumption. As I say,  to their credit it never plays like a soundtrack album. It is, in every respect, a proper release that sounds epic and substantial. There are moments of great celestial beauty here (Moon Fever especially) and moments of driving symphonic Pink Floyd-esque sounds (Sonic Armada, Cosmic Trip and the opener Astronomic Club) and the whole thing is sequenced perfectly and achieves a nice flow throughout.

Allmusic states: “That Air can pack so much history into this music without its feeling contrived is impressive, but it’s just another facet of the care that went into the entire Le Voyage Dans La Lune project. This is a treat not just for Air fans, but aficionados of film music and science fiction, too.”

So far this is my favorite release of the year. It’s still early, though, with a lot of great bands and artists releasing albums this year. For right now, after about 5 full listens, I rate this a 8.5/10 for sure.

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