In composing music for Al Reinert's film For All Mankind, Eno knew he had to live up to some of most extraordinary images ever captured. Each of the 24 astronauts on the 13 manned missions to the moon was given a 16mm camera to record his own impressions and subjective experience of the voyages. Reinert painstakingly edited his documentary together from this more than six million feet of footage. The only audio is of the astronauts talking out their powerful feelings, years later, or talking to mission control, and Eno's music.
It was brilliant of Reinert to choose Eno, not only the inventor of the notoriously "weightless" genre of ambient music, but someone acutely sensitive to the grandeur and strangeness of the events. He was glued to his TV when the footage of those first moonsteps was originally broadcast. In the notes to Apollo, he mentions disappointment that the newsy presentation of the material and the tiny screen, interfered with appreciation of the irreal atmospheres of space travel, the vastness of space, and the dreamlike incredibility of the landings. Reinert agreed, so most of the pieces on Apollo are dark, atmospheric ambient works decorated lightly with pop music touches, such as fretless bass and sound effects. Each is quite confluent with the other; like the works on The Shutov Assembly, they fit together as if chapters of an instrumental suite.
On the other hand, Eno (and those who worked on the project) worked also in response to the most touchingly humane aspects of the voyages. What gives the footage its real pathos, of course, is the absurdity of scale; tiny, fragile humans out in the vastness of space, able to look into the "sky" and block out a view of the "beautifully, brilliantly illuminated blue marble that we call the earth" with just a white-gloved thumb-end. Underscoring this, each astronaut was allowed to take a cassette tape of music with him; almost every one chose the most all-too-human music imaginable: country & western songs. Other than just making a frontier space music, the soundtrack pieces, like Silver Morning, Deep Blue Day, and Weightless (we can almost imagine a Pasty Cline song by that name), therefore, make tongue-in-cheek use of country music idioms, mixed against ambient keyboard effects. Those pieces link perfectly with the existentially chilling and kitschy absurdities of the voyages: the golfing, the weightless ham-sandwich making, and the clownish dancing on the moon.