Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks

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Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 1983
RecordedGrant Avenue Studio, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 1981–1982
GenreAmbient, dark ambient, country
LabelEG & various
ProducerBrian Eno, Daniel Lanois
Brian Eno chronology
Ambient #4: On Land
Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Music for Films Volume 2
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[3]
Mojo5/5 stars[4]
Q5/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[7]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[8]
The Times4/5 stars[9]

Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks is the ninth solo studio album by British ambient musician Brian Eno, released in 1983. It was written, produced, and performed by Brian Eno, his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois.[11] Music from the album has appeared in the films 28 Days Later, Traffic, Trainspotting, and The Lovely Bones, whose soundtrack sold approximately four million copies.[12] Two of the songs from the album, "Silver Morning" and "Deep Blue Day", were issued as a 7" single on EG Records.


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 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 commentaries from the Apollo astronauts themselves, re-structured the music, and retitled 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 (but appear on Music for Films III) are:

  • "Sirens" (Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois)
  • "Theme for 'Opera'" (Brian Eno, Roger Eno)
  • "Fleeting Smile" (Roger Eno)
  • "Tension Block" (Daniel Lanois)
  • "Asian River" (Brian Eno)
  • "Quixote" (Roger Eno)
  • "4-Minute Warning" (John Paul Jones)
  • "For Her Atoms" (Lydia Kavina (Theremin), Misha Malin)

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 alternative version was also released by NASA featuring audio interviews but omitting the Brian Eno soundtrack.

On 19 July 2019, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a special version of the album was released, featuring the remastered original, as well as an accompanying album of 11 new instrumental compositions by Brian Eno, Roger Eno & Daniel Lanois that reimagine the soundtrack to For All Mankind.[13]

Album cover photograph[edit]

The orbital photograph of the lunar surface is a hand held Hasselblad-camera photograph made during the mission of Apollo 17 in December 1972. The ID-number of the photograph is AS17-150-23069[14] (Magazine 150-LL). It shows a closeup view of the most southern section of Mare Serenitatis on the eastern part of the moon's near side. Also visible are Promontorium Archerusia (the oblong system of hills), Brackett (the shallow crater), Dorsum Nicol (the wrinkle ridge), Rimae Plinius (the three grooves), and the northern part of the rim of the pronounced crater Plinius. On the cover of the album, the upper margin of the orbital Hasselblad photograph is rotated 90 degrees to the right. Also visible on the cover photograph is the brightness of Mare Serenitatis to the north (rightward) of the shallow crater Brackett and Rimae Plinius. When observed through a telescope, this region shows a subtle yellowish or tannish grey color. The region to the south (leftward) of Mare Serenitatis shows a subtle bluish grey, which is the overall color of Mare Tranquillitatis. On the cover of the album, these subtle real colors are not reproduced, only the abrupt change of brightness is visible.

Hasselblad photograph AS17-150-23069 is also seen as Figure 59 in Part 1 of Chapter 4 (The Maria) in NASA SP-362: Apollo Over The Moon, a view from orbit.[15]

Small photograph[edit]

The small photograph on the back side of the LP cover is AS14-73-10116,[16] made during the mission of Apollo 14 in February 1971. It shows small sections of the walled plains Fra Mauro and Bonpland. The grooves on the floors of both walled plains are known as Rimae Parry. The distinct and largest one of the small bowl shaped craters in this photograph is Fra Mauro F.

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 steel 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."[17]

"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, and in "Ascent" by Michael Dow, a London electronic music producer. It has also 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.[12] "...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]

Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
1."Under Stars"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois4:25
2."The Secret Place"Daniel Lanois, arranged Brian Eno3:27
3."Matta"Brian Eno4:14
4."Signals"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois2:44
5."An Ending (Ascent)"Brian Eno4:18
6."Under Stars II"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois3:15
7."Drift"Roger Eno, Brian Eno3:03
8."Silver Morning"Daniel Lanois2:35
9."Deep Blue Day"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno3:53
10."Weightless"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno4:28
11."Always Returning"Brian Eno, Roger Eno3:49
12."Stars"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois7:57
For All Mankind (2019 remaster second disc)
1."The End Of A Thin Cord"Brian Eno4:09
2."Capsule"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois3:14
3."At The Foot Of A Ladder"Brian Eno, Roger Eno3:36
4."Waking Up"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois2:29
5."Clear Desert Night"Brian Eno3:11
6."Over The Canaries"Brian Eno4:42
7."Last Step From The Surface"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois3:58
8."Fine-Grained"Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois3:37
9."Under The Moon"Brian Eno, Roger Eno3:10
10."Strange Quiet"Brian Eno, Roger Eno4:09
11."Like I Was A Spectator"Brian Eno4:23



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 (1983) Peak
New Zealand Albums Chart[18] 48
Chart (2019) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[19] 127
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[20] 138
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[21] 61
Scottish Albums (OCC)[22] 8
UK Albums (OCC)[23] 16


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Silver 60,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Uses in other media[edit]


  1. ^ Lewis, Uncle Dave. "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks – Brian Eno". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospherics & Soundtracks". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Brian Eno". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-857-12595-8.
  4. ^ "Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks". Mojo: 114. [With] the sounds of strange creatures, celestial choirs and stardust.
  5. ^ Pytlik, Mark (15 April 2005). "Brian Eno: Music for Films / Apollo / Thursday Afternoon / More Music for Films". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 20 October 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  6. ^ McEwen, Simon (August 2019). "Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks". Q (401): 119.
  7. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Brian Eno". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 278–279. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  8. ^ Weisbard & Marks 1995, p. 129.
  9. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (19 July 2019). "Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks review — an undimmed celestial vision". The Times. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  10. ^ Pattison, Louis (19 July 2019). "Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks". Uncut. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b "Independent on Sunday: 50 Eno Moments". hyperreal.org. 10 May 1998.
  13. ^ https://www.udiscovermusic.com/news/brian-eno-apollo-atmospheres-soundtr
  14. ^ AS17-150-23069 in the LPI's Apollo Image Atlas
  15. ^ NASA SP-362: Apollo Over The Moon, a view from orbit, Chapter 4: The Maria (Part 1), Figure 59: Southern part of Mare Serenitatis
  16. ^ AS14-73-10116 in the LPI's Apollo Image Atlas
  17. ^ http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/interviews/sos90b.html
  18. ^ "charts.nz – Brian Eno – Apollo". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Ultratop.be – Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno – Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno – Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno – Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  24. ^ "British album certifications – Brian Eno – Apollo". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Apollo in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  25. ^ https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/coldplay/2014/royal-albert-hall-london-england-2bc18ce6.html
  26. ^ https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/coldplay/2014/royal-albert-hall-london-england-73c18e8d.html
  27. ^ "Cancer Research UK 'Enemy' TV ad". YouTube.org. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  28. ^ "BMW 'Ode to tarmac' ad". campaignlive.co.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Complete list of songs".

Works cited

External links[edit]