Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks

Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks

Recorded in 1983 to accompany a documentary about the moon landing, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks is the most accessible of all of Brian Eno’s ambient works. (Originally titled Apollo, it was later recut and rereleased as For All Mankind.) Though the music at times seems effortless and even plainspoken, it's the result of a tight-knit exchange among three individuals: Eno, his brother Roger, and Canadian producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Lanois (whose Toronto studio served as the location for these recordings). The music is at once darker and groovier than Eno’s previous ambient works. It's also incredibly modernistic. To this day, “An Ending (Ascent)” frequently appears on the soundtracks of major movies, while tracks like “Under Stars,” “Drift,” and “Signals” presaged the sound of electronic music in '90s (minus the breakbeats). While artists like Aphex Twin owe a lot to this album, its best songs are unlike anything else in the electronic canon. The final five songs are essential. Led by Lanois’ pedal steel playing, they sound like sublime country-and-western instrumentals floating in zero gravity.

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