Brian Eno

Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

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Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks consists of music written for a documentary film about NASA's Apollo missions, which landed several humans on the moon between 1969 and 1972. The film was originally titled Apollo, and initially consisted of footage from the moon missions without narrations, but due to lukewarm response from test audiences, the film went through several edits, incorporating commentary from the astronauts and ground crew, and was finally released in 1989 as For All Mankind. The original soundtrack for Apollo was released in 1983, however, and subsequently took on a life of its own. Composed and performed by Brian Eno along with his brother Roger and guitarist/producer Daniel Lanois, the album interprets the vastness and weightlessness of space in a variety of different ways. Eno wanted to avoid the sensationalism of the television broadcasts and news reports of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, instead preferring to express how he imagined actually being in space would feel. This turns out to be a much wider range of moods than one might think. Pieces like "Matta" and "Signals" are dark, haunting, and strange, with bizarre noises evoking the presence of alien life forms. For the most part, however, the album suggests that space is comforting and safe rather than cold, isolating, and unknowable. Lanois' steel guitar adds a cosmic country flavor to the music, keeping it human and somewhat down to earth, and transferring the wide-open feel of the desert into outer space. "Deep Blue Day" and "Weightless" are slow, detached waltzes conjuring images of a Western-themed lounge on a spaceship -- relaxed and unworried, but with a slight tinge of homesickness. On the other hand, the truly sublime "An Ending (Ascent)" is like the realization of space as one's true home. Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks is easily one of Eno's best and most accessible ambient albums, and an ideal starting point for anyone new to the genre.

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