Voyages to the Moon
Moon Safari, through which they were attempting to penetrate my subconscious mind and make me more susceptible to buying their window-displayed consumables, which wasn't very nice of them at all really).
For the briefest of moments the two merged and my mind was indeed lifted to a higher state of consumable conciseness, simultaneously freed from the burdens of the material world and primed to fill this gap with even more material burdens and then, Coleridge-style, my moment of idyllic calm was shattered, not by a passing salesperson knocking on my door but by the realisation that a once loved album had become that passing salesperson.
1998 saw the release of two down-tempo albums that shaped much of my lazy Sunday afternoon listening habits for years to come, Austrian duo Kruder & Dorfmeister's sublime The K&D Sessions came out in August, but for me much of the year belonged to Air's Moon Safari with the deliriously squlechy sounds of Sexy Boy and Kelly Watch the Stars, and the gorgeous deep enveloping sound of the omnipresent Moog was no doubt a factor in my own acquisition of a Voyager some years later.
As I stood on O'Connell Street what depressed me most was the sudden feeling of age that came with the reduction of a much-loved memory to a muzak-esque elevator tune of commercialism. Other albums of the era, Moby's 1999 Play and St Germain's 2000 release Tourist were both instantly destroyed by the rapid adoption of almost every album track by marketeers and television commercial directors, but somehow Moon Safari retained a warm place in my heart (no doubt artificially for I am sure its track-list was as thoroughly plundered by the ad industry as the others).
Apart from the soundtrack for Virgin Suicides almost every other release has been a disappointment, some painfully so, and hearing Moon Safari so neutered by Clery's tannoys I had to ask myself whether it always had sounded so bland, and was the regard with which I held it more a product of the status it held as the soundtrack to a memorable year than an indicator of genuine quality?
I still have no answer to this, but I am rather happy to say that 14 years later they have finally released something else that I don't think is completely poo, perhaps on par with The Virgin Suicides. Coincidentally arriving just in time to ride the post-Oscar nomination wave of Martin Scorcese's Hugo (a film about which I have not a single bad thing to say, even the 3D actually added something of value to the story, it was simply the best film I have seen in ages), Air's new album is a soundtrack to the restored hand-painted colour version of Georges Méliès 1902 groundbreaking Le Voyage Dans La Lune, which features heavily in Hugo, though the Air soundtrack is a completely unrelated project.
It is worth buying the extended edition of the album, which also includes a DVD of the restored sixteen-minute film with the accompanying new soundtrack, or as I looked at it, it is worth buying the DVD, which just happens to come with an album of extended versions of the soundtrack.
Back in January the Guardian did an interesting feature on the production of the album, in which Nicholas Godin (one half of the duo) said "It's like a loop. Fifteen years later we find ourselves still on the moon… although this is a very different piece of music". Le Voyage Dans La Lune is a nice bookend, making it deceptively easy to forget all the rubbish that came between Moon Safari and it.Tweet