by Brian Weidy
The 2012 New York Guitar Festival opened Friday night with a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Brian Eno's landmark album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, featuring a star-studded lineup featuring the Brooklyn based ambient duo itsnotyouitsme, Larry Campbell, Mike Gordon, and many more.
After an introduction by John Schaefer from WNYC, the ensemble launched a rare live reproduction of the soundtrack. Accompanying the music were sequences from the film, the Man in the Right Seat, played as well, giving even more power to the dissonant sounds and ambient noises coming from the collective.
Despite not great, and hardly even good acoustics in the atrium, the ensemble used the natural reverb and otherwise bothersome echoes to their advantage, filling the room with sound and immersing the audience with ambient soundscapes and a booming bottom end.
Throughout the course of the just over an hour performance of the album, played straight through without so much as a pause other than the natural spaces in the album, its hard to pin down a single highlight; however, one of the most moving and powerful songs off of the album is "An Ending (Ascent)" and the live representation was able to capture the same power and emotion, with soaring leads by Larry Campbell on the pedal steel guitar.
After completing the album, the band then took a bow and played an "encore" of sorts, playing a 10-minute improvised piece. While originally struggling to gain its footing, Gordon provided a strong bass line for which the rest of the group was able to build off of and create another, slightly disjointed, foray into ambient space.