Apollo: Tribute to Brian Eno
Icebreaker ft. BJ Cole
Release Date: Jun 26, 12
It would be unnecessary to compare Brian Eno’s Apollo album to the reinterpretation done by Icebreaker and BJ Cole. One of the most fundamental differences is the context in which the former album was released. Eno recorded Apollo to coincide with the 1983 documentary (by Al Reinert) on the Apollo space missions. This reimagining by Icebreaker and Cole was formed live, to interpret Eno’s ambient genius in a performance setting. And the results are notable.
It would have been easy to pick from Eno’s catalog, as many have done before, and covered perhaps Here Come the Warm Jets, or Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, and just reinterpreted those rock songs. Not that would be a bad thing, either. But to take an ambient record, one can only do so much to not simply recreate what’s there, while still making it their own. Moments into the first song “Signals,” it is difficult to discern the Eno version from Icebreaker’s. Yet there is a slight nuance to Eno’s ambiance, which is hard to recreate. Eno’s ambient music has a signature texture to it that is missing from the tribute. It is almost a spooky feel that seems to be a common ghost in Eno’s works. On the Icebreaker/Cole piece, it’s not so spooky. And it’s not missing in the sense that there’s a void, just simply not there.
Icebreaker and Cole every so subtly add touches to Apollo and sort of give it a more animated feel than Eno’s version. While credit is due to Eno for his talent at nearly forming a narrative with his movement from song to song, without meandering or becoming ambiently boring, Icebreaker and Cole do a fine job at modifying that. It must be because of having to live up to the live performances. It would be interesting to know how much technology plays a part in reinterpreted an album such as Apollo. Not to mention the fact that NASA is all but shut down and this music paid tribute to space and the pursuit of space by man. Ambient albums such as these are made for those discussions, and then some.