As any fans of 90s alt rock should know, back in 1996, the Smashing Pumpkins released a music video for their hit "Tonight, Tonight" which paid tribute to the classic and ground-breaking 1902 science fiction film Le Voyage Dans La Lune
directed by French film pioneer George Melies. French electronica duo Air
have decided to pay their tribute to this landmark of the silent era with an album, Le Voyage Dans La Lune
, named after the film and with music inspired by its story/visuals. While the album certainly has its moments where it scratches our omnipresent itch for well-composed ambient music, it mostly remains soporific, and Le Voyage Dans La Lune
may find more life as a sleep aid than as a worthy follow-up to Air's still-remarkable Moon Safari
Perhaps Air's intentions were to capture the cold detachment of space, and if that was their goal, they succeeded. If their goal was to turn that thematic statement into a consistently entertaining album, then they failed. Tracks like "Parade" and "Sonic Armada" dig past the emptiness of these cosmic themes and incorporate funkier and catchier hooks to the base ambience. However, far too much time on the album is spent on sparse and unengaging tones where repetitive layers of sound are layered 'til you're ready to change the disc. Many of the songs feature an intriguing pick-up or break down eventually, but by the time the fun part of the song arrives, you've stopped paying complete attention to what you're listening to.
The music may work more as a score for the film itself (though the film is a mere 16 minutes compared to the album's 31) than something you listen to independently. At times, I was reminded of the work of Japanese neo-classical composer Nobuo Uematsu though without Uematsu's ability to listen to the tunes separate from what they are meant to be scoring. For your average music fan, we have difficulty recommending this to anyone but the most hardcore supporters of ambient and chillwave electronica. Everyone else can keep looking.