INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Trouser Press FEBRUARY 1984 - by Steven Grant
BRIAN ENO/DANIEL LANOIS/ROGER ENO: APOLLO / JON HASSELL: AKA-DARBARI-JAVA: MAGIC REALISM
Apollo, the soundtrack to a documentary on the Apollo moon missions, is something of a breakthrough in Brian Eno's career. According to Eno's unusually verbose liner notes, the project was "an opportunity to explore the feelings of space travel: being weightless, seeing the night-time campfires of Saharan nomads from high above the earth, looking back to a little blue planet drifting alone in space, looking out into the endless darkness beyond, and finally stepping on to another planet."
Never having been in space, I can't say whether Eno - with brother (I suspect) Roger and longtime engineer Daniel Lanois - succeeded. The sounds by themselves don't suggest specific images, and the usual elliptical track titles are scarcely clues. The work does follow successfully Eno's previous On Land, his first real foray into psychoambient music.
Again on Apollo, Eno attempts to create sonic impressions of places that exist only in the imagination. The vocabulary of sounds is familiar to anyone who has seen a science fiction film, but never mind; Eno fits them together spectacularly, creating a completely sensory music. This isn't background drone stuff, but a complex array of acoustic and electronic sourcesand vocals, in a manner reminiscent of Gyorgy Ligeti's Lux Aeterna used in 2001. And are you ready for country-ambient, the bulk of side two? Twang that pedal steel, Brian.
Eno's erstwhile collaborator Jon Hassell opts for the occult rather than the cosmic on Aka-Darbari-Java: Magic Realism. Hassell crossbreeds a number of recent trends in edge music: third world musics (in this case, from Java, Central Africa and Senegal) superimposed and transmogrified with computers, and structured via serially-influenced minimalism. The result is chillingly Hassellian - almost alien, almost familiar music that flashes back and forth between cerebral and physical. Intelligent and unusual. I know it isn't rock 'n' roll, but I like it.