A Self-Deprecating Reissue
Music downloading has seen two primary antagonists to its quasi-populist cause: lawsuits filed against perpetrators, and expanded reissues. While revenue for a quickly dying industry is their mutual objective, the amount of thought put into either effort is what comes into question. Leaving lawsuit analysis for another story, reissuing an album, regardless of the source material, is either done well like Daydream Nation, Endtroducing or any of the Pavement reissues, or poorly like the majority of The Cure’s catalog. Just as in 1998, Air’s sublimely monumental debut Moon Safari still gives listeners a sensuous aural bubble bath of chill electronica that is relaxing and danceable in equal measure. Cuts like “Sexy Boy,” “Remember” and “Kelly Watch the Stars” will still generate head nods through earphones and keep bodies on the dance floor, whereas “La Femme D’Argent,” “Ce Matin La” and “New Star in the Sky” retain their space-age bachelor-pad feel. But if there ever was a way for a reissue to argue its own existence, disc 2 of this Moon Safari anniversary set may have found it.
Consisting of live and alternate versions, remixes and a solitary demo, this second audio disc has nary a single track worth the extra money in this or any economy. By subtracting the percussion and adding lush strings, the D. Whitaker version of “Remember” is almost lifeless. The BBC version of “Kelly Watch the Stars” may have a high-energy guitar injection, but the seemingly intergalactic majesty of the album version is nowhere to be found. By the end of this compilation, the only positive could be listeners clamoring for another shot at the original album.
If the bonus disc doesn’t make listeners doubt their purchase, the DVD certainly will. While it’s nice to have the videos for “Kelly Watch the Stars,” “Sexy Boy,” “All I Need” and “Le Soleil Est Pres de Moi” present, the Mike Mills documentary Eating, Sleeping, Waiting & Playing comes across as a collage of nicely filmed footage interspersed with one of the more pedestrian artist interviews ever committed to celluloid. To even make it through the 75 minutes is an endurance trial.
Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel hit a celestial jackpot with Moon Safari in 1998. Imposing as the monolith did in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it put forth standards that the duo have fiercely aimed to recreate with some degree of success with 2004’s Talkie Walkie and 2007’s Pocket Symphony. A debut as strong as this deserves an expansive package, where the bonus material is worth the time. Sadly, everything present barring the original album does nothing if not prove the opposite.