Air writes sublime score for re-release of classic sci-fi film

Jack H. Evans

In 1902, Georges Méliès’ classic sci-fi silent film A Trip to the Moon was released. A mere 110 years later, as a fully restored version of A Trip to the Moon appears at film festivals worldwide, French electronica duo Air have produced a re-imagined score for the film, and in doing so have created an ambient pop near-masterpiece – Le Voyage Dans La Lune. The music of Air, comprised of Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, is most easily and accurately described as electronica, but that doesn’t mean it will appeal to fans of techno and dubstep. Rather, Air aims to create an atmospheric musical experience, incorporating several elements of other styles to build unique layers of sound. One integral part of Air’s identity is that their songs often include instruments not usually found in electronic music. While the music is still heavily synthesizer based, the typical drum-machine beats are generally forsaken in favor of live drums, making songs like “Seven Stars” and “Sonic Armada” more organic and atmospheric. Meanwhile, symphonic percussion graces “Astronomic Club” and “Decollage,” piano peppers “Cosmic Trip,” and even banjo shows up on “Lava.” The guitar makes a surprising mark here, with sharp riffs on “Parade” and distorted bends on “Lava.” With non-electronic influences including Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream, it’s no surprise that Air accomplishes atmosphere through more than just dreamy keyboards. The voice samples on “Seven Stars” and “Cosmic Trip” add variety to the music while obviating any monotony that might have existed here, and the Depeche Mode-esque textures on “Parade” counteract the slower musical parts. Moods range from the upbeat (“Sonic Armada”) to the frenzied (“Lava”) and the dark and eerie (see the creeping guitar-vibraphone lines on “Who Am I Now?”), providing for a dynamic and sonically engaging record. In another electronica rarity, about half of the songs on Le Voyage Dans La Lune also include vocals. Dunckel contributes brief, ambient vocals to “Parade,” “Cosmic Trip,” and “Lava,” while dream pop group Au Revoir Simone shine on “Who Am I Now?” and guest vocalist Victoria Legrand of Beach House lends her pipes to “Seven Stars.” While Air’s atmospheric blend of electronica and ambient pop may not appeal to everyone, they’ve done something with Le Voyage Dans La Lune that should at least be tried by everyone and appreciated by most listeners. If it counts, go ahead and give this film score of the year, because it’ll be hard to beat. Overall rating: 9/10 Jack H. Evans is the entertainment editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.