Brian Eno: ′The Apollo missions to the moon were a piece a art′ | Music | DW | 22.07.2019
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Music

Brian Eno: 'The Apollo missions to the moon were a piece a art'

Brian Eno writes soundtracks for movies that transport people to other galaxies. He shares his memories of the first moon landing in 1969 with DW, as his 1983 "Apollo" album is rereleased.

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Cosmic sound - Brian Eno

DW: Mr. Eno, where were you during the moon landing of 1969?

Brian Eno:I had just left art school and I was living in London, next door to my old painting professor. We sat in the kitchen looking at his little television, it was getting evening. And there was a full moon in the sky thinking: That's actually where they are now... Those people are there!

It was an incredible moment — everything contracting into this moment in time. And of course I realized that it was a very historic point in the history of the human race. So although the Apollo missions were military, technological, industrial things, they were also a piece of art. It was this idea: Hey, we could do this. We could make this happen.

Sicht der Erde aus dem All (Reuters/NASA)

Earth rises above the lunar horizon, as photographed from the Apollo 10 Lunar Module, in May 1969

How did it inspire you as an artist, as a musician?

I didn't suddenly go and start making space music. But I was already working with electronics and electronic instruments then. The kinds of sounds that they produced were unearthly. I kept finding myself thinking about the universe instead of the earth, thinking about galaxies and the emptiness of space for example. And I started to think actually most of the universe as silence; the only place that there is any actual noise is on earth. You need an atmosphere for there to be noise. So we are the noise in the universe. As far as we know. We don't know any other source of noise. It's us, just us.

You say space is silence. How difficult is it then to translate that into music?

When you say you put a very long reverberation on a sound, and you think that sounds so spacy — you know, there have been all these devices, in the history of music, called space echo, and space chamber, but of course in space there's no echo, there's no sound. So we've created a human fantasy about what space is like, and all that we know is that it's very big. I started to think that composing, making music was such an unusually human function. So we do these things for quite mysterious reasons, I think, and one of the reasons is a way of saying: I am here.

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