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Brian Eno - Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks (OST) CD (album) cover


Brian Eno


Progressive Electronic

3.80 | 117 ratings

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4 stars One of mankind's finer moments, scored by a great artist.

To properly review "Apollo" I felt I first had to watch the film it was written for, so I hunted down a copy of "For All Mankind." It was an incredible experience and a truly spiritual one. And yet there was a huge disappointment underlying it all-more on that later.

If you haven't seen "For All Mankind" you must really rent it immediately. It's a documentary showing off the best of the archived NASA footage that was not shown to the public, presumably because they didn't want to interrupt capitalism for a bit of education in the public interest. So while the public has seen the same 20 seconds of moon footage ten thousand times for nearly 4 decades, many never realized that the entire mission was filmed. Now you can watch the whole trip unfold and From launch pad to driving on the moon to splashing in the ocean the whole thing is gorgeously filmed and narrated. The huge disappointment I alluded to is that Eno's music was supposed to be the soundtrack for a narration-free showcase of the footage and this did not happen. Because someone decided the viewing public has not the attention span to watch a film without dialogue (and sadly, they are mostly correct these days), Eno's magnificent soundtrack was largely scrapped in favor of narration. The narration is interesting of course and that's great, but it's too bad the artist's original intent was gutted. Apparently National Geographic has a video release of the film under a different name with the soundtrack intact but the DVD release of "For All Mankind" uses just bits and pieces between the chatter.

In the liner notes Eno explained that Apollo "was an opportunity to explore the feeling of space travel: being weightless, seeing the night-time campfires of Saharan Nomads from high above the Earth, looking back to a little blue planet drifting alone in Space, looking out into the endless darkness beyond, and finally, stepping onto another planet. What this film can do is to present a set of moods, a unique mixture of feelings that quite possibly no human had ever experienced before, thus expanding the vocabulary of human feeling just as those missions had expanded the boundaries of our Universe. I hope this music will assist in that." [Eno, '83] "Assist" is an understatement. In terms of scoring music to aid the imagery of this particular film, Eno hits it into the upper deck. It could not be more perfect for viewing film of space travel. But it also works quite well as a stand-alone piece of music in the ambient style. A bit livelier than some of his more meditative works, Apollo has some gorgeous guitar elements by Lanois that literally paint over Eno's atmosphere. It is perfect music for contemplation, for relaxing, walking, or painting. Spooky electronic winds occasionally joined by piano, guitar, or other strange noises from far away places.

To me, the reaction to the film's subject is the perfect metaphor for one's reaction to Eno's work. Without attention, the Moon may well seem boring to you, grey, bland, and without much variation. Only when viewed closely from quality film of the surface does the incredible beauty of this strange environment become apparent. Likewise for Eno's soundtrack, which to those not paying close attention may seem like nothing. To those who look and listen with awareness there is beauty in every song..just as there is in every moonscape. I consider this album a triumph and recommend it highly, along with the film mentioned above, to anyone interested in space, history, or quality atmospheric music. There is a wealth of both information and great music to be had in these two related projects.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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