Roger and Brian Eno, and Daniel Lanois Expand ‘Apollo’ Soundtrack for Moon-Landing Anniversary

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​To mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, Roger Eno (shown here), his brother Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois revisit and expand upon their 1983 soundtrack, Apollo: Atmosphere and Soundtracks.

(Photo: Cecily Eno)

Why do you think ambient and electronic music have continued to sonically symbolize stories about space travel?

There are two main reasons for that, and I don’t think either of them are particularly positive.

One is that so-called ambient music is apparently—and I use the word apparently with a grain of salt—easy to make. People think, “Well there’s not much in this. There’s not much I have to prepare,” if you like. Plus of course, iMacs are available, Logic is prevalent. So, you get these beautiful sounds and a very easy way to edit and form them. What I’m saying is that you don’t actually have to be very good to make something that sounds kind of reasonable. And the other not particularly positive point is in the world of advertising and consumerism. When you look at what’s popular ... ambient music is a current favorite, so it’s going to be a go-to.

How did you all decide who would compose what, and what helped determine the order of the compositions?

We had the idea that we didn’t want to copy the first album. On the other hand, [the new album] did have to have some kind of links to it. It couldn’t have just been a random event. So, there were a number of ideas that Dan and I had, and Brian—it was very simple actually—he had the last choice in it, which I think is perfectly right. If you look at the first album, it’s Brian Eno with Dan and myself. So, I had no trouble with Brian having the final choice on what we had sent him.

“Under The Moon,” a song on the second disc of the new release, exudes a somber and unnerving disposition with its long silences and minor intervals. What steered you to write about the moon from that emotional place?

Well, there’s a scene in [For All Mankind] that really struck us when we were working on the original album, and it’s a scene that’s never left me: It’s when the landing craft is approaching the moon. Now, childishly, you think when you’re approaching a planet, you just land on top of it. But the approach to it––the planet was above the landing craft. So, as [the moon] gets closer, it starts off white, then it changes to a very light blue, darker blue, and darker and darker, until it’s very dark blue and then it goes to black, just as you get under this huge object. Now, that didn’t strike me as being a particularly comfortable thought, because you’re entering the darkness—literally a symbol of the unknown. So, that for me was an extraordinarily strong image.

If you could play one instrument in space, what would it be?

For my 50th birthday, my brother bought me a Martin 1951 00-17—a fantastic guitar. It’d be an accordion or that. Or maybe a melodion. One of the three. DB

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July 2022
Sean Jones
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