Review: Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks: Extended Edition
Though often associated with Brian Eno’s Ambient tetralogy – as much thanks to its comparable cover as its frequently weightless content – Apollo, his ninth solo album, was in fact recorded for a documentary about America’s late 1960s space programme, For All Mankind.
Additionally, it wasn’t really a solo record, as it instead found him working closely with his brother Roger, kickstarting his career, and producer Daniel Lanois. Both are again present, though the credit is once more solely Eno’s, for a second disc accompanying this remastered reissue as bait.
That these 11 additional, newly composed tracks, again inspired by Al Reinert’s film, are virtually indistinguishable from the dozen originals speaks to their strengths: Clear Desert Night’s chords diffuse like mist at dawn, and Over The Canaries and Under The Moon defy gravity, with single notes left hanging, just as they were on 1975’s Discreet Music. There’s greater emphasis on melody, too, on The End of A Thin Cord, while Fine-grained offers a light-footed waltz.
Ultimately, however, the 1983 release is the timeless masterpiece. Drift inevitably points back to those earlier Ambient albums, as does The Secret Place, with its gentle rumbles and distant metallic chimes, and Deep Blue Day’s floating textures and steel guitar perfectly match the surreal thought of men in space.
Even Lanois’ richly textured guitar on Silver Morning exhibits a beauty that anticipates David Sylvian’s Gone To Earth instrumentals. Moreover, it’s as good as scientific fact that An Ending (Ascent) and Always Returning are two of the most seductively melancholic instrumentals ever recorded.