Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks

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Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Studio album by Brian Eno
Released 1983
Recorded Grant Avenue Studio, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Genre Ambient, dark ambient
Length 48:08
Label EG & various
Producer Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois
Brian Eno chronology
Ambient #4: On Land
(1982)
Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
(1983)
Music for Films Volume 2
(1983)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B[2]
Pitchfork Media 9.1/10[3]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[4]
Mojo 5/5 stars[5]
Music Emissions 4.5/5 stars[6]

Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks is an album by the British ambient musician Brian Eno, released in 1983. It was written, produced, and performed by Brian Eno, his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois.[7] Music from the album appeared in the films 28 Days Later, Traffic, and Trainspotting, whose soundtrack sold approximately four million copies.[8] Two of the songs from the album, "Silver Morning" and "Deep Blue Day", were issued as a 7" single on EG Records.

Overview[edit]

This music was originally recorded in 1983 for a feature length documentary movie called "Apollo" later retitled For All Mankind, directed by Al Reinert. The original version of the film had no narration, and simply featured 35mm footage of the Apollo moon missions collected together roughly chronologically, and set to Eno's music as it appears on the album. Although the film had some limited theatrical runs at so-called "art house" cinemas in some cities, audience response was lukewarm. The filmmakers still felt the film could do better if it reached a wider audience, and so they re-edited the film, added narration, re-structured the music, and re-titled the film in the process. Various edits of the film were shown to test audiences for further refining. As all this was going on, the film's release was delayed until 1989. By that time several tracks on the album were omitted from the soundtrack and replaced by other pieces by Eno and other artists.

The tracks from the album that remain on the final edit of the film are:

  • Always Returning
  • Drift
  • Silver Morning
  • Stars
  • Under Stars
  • The Secret Place
  • An Ending (Ascent)

The newer tracks from the film that are not on the album are:

  • Sirens
  • Theme for "Opera"
  • Fleeting Smile
  • Tension Block
  • Asian River
  • Quixote
  • 4-Minute Warning
  • For Her Atoms

In the liner notes, Eno relates that when he watched the Apollo 11 landing in 1969 he felt that the strangeness of that event was compromised by the low quality of the television transmission and an excess of journalistic discussion, and that he wished to avoid the melodramatic and uptempo way it was presented. That philosophy dominated when For All Mankind ("Apollo") was originally released as a non-narrative collection of NASA stock footage from the Apollo program. The non-narrative version of the film with the Eno soundtrack was released on VHS video in 1990 by the National Geographic Society. An alternate version was also released by NASA featuring audio interviews but omitting the Brian Eno soundtrack.

The music[edit]

The album contains a variety of styles. "Under Stars", "The Secret Place", "Matta", "Signals", "Under Stars II", and "Stars" are all dark, complicated textures similar to those on Eno's previous album Ambient 4/On Land. "An Ending (Ascent)", "Drift", and "Always Returning" are smoother electronic pieces. "Silver Morning", "Deep Blue Day", and "Weightless" are country and western inspired ambient pieces featuring Daniel Lanois on guitar.

Country music, which Eno listened to as a child in Woodbridge on American armed forces radio, was used to "give the impression of weightless space." 1

"Under Stars" is a recurring theme in the album, first appearing as an ambient electronic bed behind a treated guitar. "Under Stars II" is the same composition, but with different effects and treatments. "Stars" is the pure background texture without the guitar.

The track "An Ending (Ascent)" was sampled in the song "Hear Me Out" by the group Frou Frou, in "Forgive" by British producer Burial, additionally in "Ascent" by Michael Dow, a London electronic music producer, and has been used in several films such as Traffic and 28 Days Later, and in the London Olympiad opening (the memorial wall section).

Many of the tracks on the album were recorded with soft "attacks" of each note, then played backwards, with multiple heavy echoes and reverb added in both directions to merge the notes into one long flowing sound with each note greatly overlapping each adjacent note, producing the "floating" effects that Eno desired.

The Yamaha DX7 was used extensively by Eno on the album.[8] "...so many processings and reprocessings – it's a bit like making soup from the leftovers of the day before, which in turn was made from leftovers..." (making the album) Eno said, ".... Well, I love that music anyway .... what I find impressive about that music is that it's very concerned with space in a funny way. Its sound is the sound of a mythical space, the mythical American frontier space that doesn’t really exist anymore. That's why on Apollo I thought it very appropriate, because it's very much like "space music" — it has all the connotations of pioneering, of the American myth of the brave individual...." (on country music) 4.

Live version[edit]

In the summer of 2009 a live version of the album was performed at two concerts in the IMAX cinema of London's Science Museum and in an arrangement by South Korean composer Woojun Lee for the ensemble Icebreaker with featured artist B J Cole on pedal steel guitar. The album was performed in its entirety, with the tracks in a different order, to a silent and edited version of For All Mankind, closer to the original conception than the released version of the film. A revised version was performed twice at the 2010 Brighton Festival, where Eno was guest artistic director, before subsequent touring in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.

Due to the heavily processed nature of the studio-based sound on the original tracks, an exact reproduction would have been impossible to reproduce in a live context, so Woojun Lee chose to apply a free interpretation of the sound world and to make an impression of the original tracks through use of Icebreaker's instrumental resources.

The performances from Brighton were recorded and an album of the live interpretation was released in June 2012.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Under Stars" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois) 4:25
2. "The Secret Place" (Daniel Lanois, arranged Brian Eno) 3:27
3. "Matta" (Brian Eno) 4:14
4. "Signals" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois) 2:44
5. "An Ending (Ascent)" (Brian Eno) 4:18
6. "Under Stars II" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois) 3:15
7. "Drift" (Roger Eno, Brian Eno) 3:03
8. "Silver Morning" (Daniel Lanois) 2:35
9. "Deep Blue Day" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno) 3:53
10. "Weightless" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno) 4:28
11. "Always Returning" (Brian Eno, Roger Eno) 3:49
12. "Stars" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois) 7:57

Credits[edit]

Versions[edit]

Country Release Date Music Label Media Catalogue Number Notes
Netherlands 1983 Editions EG LP 813 535-1
US 1983 EG Records LP EGLP 53
US 1983 Caroline CD 0 1704-61514-2 9
UK 1983 Virgin CD 0777 7 86778 2 6
UK 1986 EG Records CD EGCD 53
UK 2005 Virgin CD 7243 5 63647 2 1
Europe 2005 Virgin CD ENOCD 10 Remastered
US 1983 Editions EG 11 x LP EGBS 2 Working Backwards
1983-1973 (Box set)

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
New Zealand Albums Chart[9] 48

Uses in other media[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  2. ^ http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Brian+Eno
  3. ^ Pytlik, Mark (15 April 2005). "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks Review". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks Review. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Mojo (Publisher) (p.114) – 5 stars out of 5 – "[With] the sounds of strange creatures, celestial choirs and stardust."
  6. ^ http://www.musicemissions.com/artists/albums/index.php?album_id=3702
  7. ^ Prendergast, Mark (2000). The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance – the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age. Bloomsbury Publishing, New York. p. 125. ISBN 1-58234-134-6. 
  8. ^ a b "Independent on Sunday: 50 Eno Moments". hyperreal.org. 10 May 1998. 
  9. ^ "charts.org.nz – Brian Eno – Apollo". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  10. ^ "Cancer Research UK 'Enemy' TV ad". YouTube.org. Retrieved 31 December 2012.