The second piece was Roy Carrol's Towards / Against. This involved a much smaller ensemble and relied extensively on the considerable skills of the percussionist. All manner of items were used, including whiskey cartons filled with rice whose tonal notes were then picked up by the wind instruments. The piece had the feeling of a rattlesnakes
tail tale in the Texan desert and footsteps in a deserted mansion. Carroll's music has this quality about it, he explores the physicality of music through creating kinetic interactions between apparently discarded materials such as denuded loudspeakers, textured materials and feedback loops. He views instability as a creative prerogative.
The final piece before the interval is Julia Wolfe's 'Big, Beautiful, Dark and Scary'. Described as this is how life feels right now, the overall effect is not scary, it is terrifying. Occasionally the instruments scream their protest at being used thus and the floor vibrates up through our seats. The noise is deafening. This is raw power in musical form, natures rage unleashed. It crescendo's and then is suddenly cut off. There is a dazed silence before rapturous applause from the audience.
He has also been credited with the creation of an entire genre of music - ambient. Although this is debatable, Eno is the person who is most clearly identified with the genre and who has made it his own.
The soundtrack to Apollo takes it's cue from the fact that many of the astronauts took tapes of country and western music with them on the Apollo missions. Eno used this idea to create a subtle blend of country and western with ambient.
The music is highly atmospheric. The lights go down, a stark contrast from the 1st half and the orchestra are lit only by the glow from their sheet lights. The projector starts to play the film and the music makes you feel like you are floating away. All around the auditorium people are hugging loved ones close to them or have their eyes closed in reflective contemplation. The music drifts and floats with the astronauts.
Then the atmosphere switches as the panpipes come in mingled with the thud of the kettle drum. The landing is approaching and there is a sense of anticipation. The music becomes almost menacing; this is alien territory, somewhere humans are not meant to tread and we have defied nature to get here.
After the landing the mood becomes joyful and soothing, much more uplifting. The flutes and the pedal steel are employed and then the electric guitar comes in. Somehow this sound turns the moon from an alien entity into a human playground - somewhere inviting, safe and familiar, almost homely. The country music influence can be heard most clearly here.
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