Back in August of 2012, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, naval aviator, university professor and astronaut Neil Armstrong died in Cincinnati due to complications from bypass surgery. Like many at the time I was saddened to hear the news, but there was another aspect to his death that affected me in a way different to the passing of similar high profile public figures.
Having no frame of reference for something like the Moon landing it had often felt like an abstract concept, and almost inevitable that we were capable of achieving such a feat given technologically what we’ve achieved since. Over the next few days however I came to realise that this was perhaps the closest I would ever come to gaining a first hand sense of the enormity of the event. The first human ever to set foot on another celestial body other than Earth was gone.
I ended up channelling these thoughts into a mix, loosely drawing on the theme of the moon and space. But after a few weeks – apart from the occasional bit of tinkering – I ran out of steam and the mix stalled for years. Until about a year ago when a group of friends arranged a mix swap. This is where each person in the group produces and burns copies of a self-produced mix onto CD. They then send their copies to the organiser who distributes them all to the group. With this I found the impetus I needed to complete the mix. (The lesson here being always have a deadline for personal projects!).
This all leads me to now and this blog post. As we approach the eve of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing events are taking place all over the world. I’m off to the science and music festival Bluedot which will undoubtedly have many talks and performances celebrating this historic moment in our species history. But before I go I wanted to share again this mix, which in its own small way pays tribute to the remarkable collective effort that was the moon landing.
You can listen to the mix on the player below or on the Mixcloud website
You can download a lossless Flac version of the mix here by right clicking and selecting “Save Link As…”
- Asana _ Moon & Sand [Easel]
- Jack Kerouac _ The Moon Her Majesty [Coxy]
- Nouvelle Vague _ The Killing Moon [Peacefrog]
- Tranquility Bass _ They Came In Peace [Mo’Wax]
- Broadway Project _ Solar Lunar [Memphis Industries]
- The Herbaliser _ Moon Sequence [Ninja Tune]
- Belbury Poly _ The Moonlawn [Ghostbox]
- Circlesquare _ Music For Satellites [Studio !K7]
- Urban Myth & Steve Beresford _ Aching Space [Planet Mu]
- The Focus Group _ The Moon Ladder [Ghostbox]
- Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto _ Moon [Raster—Norton]
- Octo Octa _ Until The Moon Sets [Honey Soundsystem]
- Fatima Yamaha _ Half Moon Rising [Dekmantel]
- Four Walls & Funkyjaws _ Bring Me To Space (Saine Remix) [Shadeleaf]
- Autechre _ Oval Moon (ibc_mx) [Warp Records]
- Djrum _ Space Race Pt. 1 & 2 [2nd Drop Records]
- Eden Ahbez _ Full Moon [Del—Fi Records]
- GB _ Moonset (intro) [Sound In Color]
- Voice Of The Seven Woods _ Breaking Moonlight [Kning Disk]
- Lusine Icl _ Shoot The Moon [Hymen Records]
- Hymie’s Basement _ Moonhead [Lex Records]
- Alias And Ehren _ Moonfuzz [Anticon]
- The Capris _ There’s a Moon Out Tonight [Planet]
- Manual _ As The Moon Spins Around [Morr Music]
The process (which I go into more detail about below) helped me form a deeper appreciation for something that I had always felt uncomfortably distanced from. To quote a sample used in the mix
Years from now when names like Shepard, Glenn, Grissom, White, Schirra, Armstrong, Aldren and Collins are multiplied a thousand fold, we will still remember mans initial conquest of space.Flight to the Moon – Roy Neal (1969)
I wanted to use a lot of vocal samples from the Apollo 11 mission, TV/Radio coverage at the time and also samples of subsequent reflections on events. An indispensable resource for this was arhcive.org
A list of all the records I drew vocal samples from can be found here.
I was keen to construct a narrative with samples. but not a strictly linear one. I chose to draw from the hours before lift off to the moment the LEM touched down, interspersing this with clips of people reflecting on the mission.
There is a dearth of interviews with Armstrong who disliked the spotlight and rarely gave public appearances or interviews. My favourite out of what I did find was an interview he gave the late Sir Patrick Moore. You can view video of the interview below or here.
My absolutely favourite sample however is that of Armstrong’s mother from a US gameshow called “I’ve Got A Secret”. This was years before the Apollo 11 mission. I use it to round off the mix. You can view the original footage below or here. It’s quite lovely.
I’d encourage you also to watch some of the amazing films out there around the subject, In The Shadow Of The Moon, For All Mankind and the recently released Apollo 11.
As part of the mix swap there was a need to produce physical copies of the mix. CDs seem archaic and wasteful in this digital age but I’m still a sucker for physical formats. On the look and feel — I was in the middle of developing a KidVector brand system at the time and felt this was a good moment to test the style guide. You can see the final artwork here.
With hindsight I would have liked to approach the design of the CD as its own self contained brief but time constraints required I get something finished fast. Eventually the mix went on to became part of my mix series Infinity City and adopted the look and feel of the show, the artwork for which you can see in the Mixcloud player.
I have a limited amount of the physical copies with original artwork left. These can be purchased here