1. LaunchPad [6:46] MP3 soundclip of LaunchPad [3:00]
  2. Apollo 7 [4:23]
  3. Staging [5:23]
  4. Apollo 8 [6:56]
  5. Orbit [8:23] MP3 soundclip of Orbit [3:00]
  6. Apollo 9 [6:16]
  7. Docking [6:56]
  8. Apollo 11 [5:46]
  9. EarthRise [4:33]
  10. Apollo 13 [5:19]
  11. ReEntry [5:00] MP3 soundclip of ReEntry [3:00]
  12. SplashDown [4:57]
For this album, I was inspired by the Apollo Moon missions, undertaken by NASA during the 60’s and 70’s of the previous century. Since I was born in 1969, the same year that Neil Amstrong set foot on the Moon, I have always felt a very strong connection to this event.

Listening to this album will take you on a voyage from the Earth to the Moon and back again. Many of the astronauts that actually took this journey have stated that they went up there to discover the Moon, yet really discovered Earth. Before Apollo, no-one had ever traveled far enough away to actually see the whole planet in one view. Pictures of that beautiful blue marble floating in space have become famous the world over and have made mankind feel more interconnected than ever before. In my opinion, the Moon landings represent human’s greatest technological achievement up to date. I really hope to live the day that we will be able to return there.

2011. Michel van Osenbruggen Synth.NL's well-honed mastery of classic analog/Berlin music gets an extra dose of theme on his 2011 release, 'Apollo'. This rocket-fueled joyride whooshes through a dozen sequencer-based scenarios, abetted by soundbites taken from Mission Control recordings. Michel van Osenbruggen neatly captures the feel of our early jaunts into space, from the rush of takeoff to the grace of zero-G to the expectation of splashdown. Many of the tracks here are powered by deep, rich bass lines, a solid and funky bedrock that perfectly supports his higher-end flights. This is at its best in the patient movement of "Docking." The bass tiptoes along like the subtle and deliberate manipulations of the docking craft. At the same time, van Osenbruggen manages to pipe in a feeling of suspense. 'Apollo' truly hits its stride when it's going full-speed. "Apollo 11" catches me with a moment of sudden acceleration that puts me in mind of the 80s New Romantic band Classix Nouveaux--a burst of dance-worthy electro-pop groove that's pure fun. Appropriately, "Reentry" is uptempo and energetic, but also carries a great hopeful feel--the sense of heading toward victory. The gentler pieces also excel in conveying the theme. "Earthrise" coasts along on a flute-like sequencer. Plucked notes reminiscent of the work of Ray Lynch carry the melody and paint a picture of the big blue marble coming into view in the distance. "Apollo 8" is a perfect floating spacemusic construct with Berlin influences at the edges. Electronic twiddles dance in the space around Van Osenbruggen's graceful melody. The overall atmosphere of 'Apollo', if you'll pardon the pun, is wonderfully amplified by the voice samples. They create a real sense of narrative. Van Osenbruggen is telling a story he's very passionate about, and he puts that straight into the music. 'Apollo' is a lot of fun to listen to, particularly at volume. (Drive with this on and you may likely exceed all local speed limits.)

Kudos also to Van Osenbruggen for his detailed liner notes. He gives a bit of history about the flight or mission aspect that each track is named. Again, it's one more bit of effort that makes the disc stand out.

2012. Hypnagogue It’s on a musical canvas strongly inspired Jean Michel Jarre, Rendez-Vous era, that bathe the rhythms and atmospheres of Synth NL 4th opus solo, exactly like Jarre’s Rendez-Vous. But the legendary synthesist from France isn’t the only source of inspiration which guided Michel van Osenbruggen in the making of Apollo. Born in 1969, or the same year that Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the lunar soil, the Dutch synthesist always maintained robust connections and deep feelings towards Apollo missions and other spatial expeditions. It’s in this context that Synth. NL proposes us Apollo, a solid opus where historic narrator voices and spatial sound effects invade the rhythms and atmospheres which surround 12 titles to strong reminiscences of the cosmic and rhythmic universe of Rendez-Vous.

Cracklings and cosmic noises open the ambient introduction of "LaunchPad". A somber synth wave pulses and lays its tones up to the undulating pulsations of a bass line, leading to vocals samplings which describe a spatial tragedy. Synth waves sweep the atmosphere, such as gyrating head lamps enlightening the debris which are bursting of an igneous color, under the weight of pulsations became more threatening and more insistent. And it’s under the historic speech of Kennedy that "LaunchPad" takes off slowly of an uncertain rhythm, perched on its heavy pulsations and wrapped by beautiful twisted solos which tear the circular veils of a synth to cosmic musical movements. This rhythmic tendency a bit ambivalent fed the large majority Apollo’s titles. So "Apollo 7" has difficulty to lift off from its intro filled of round pulsations which mark time on nice synth pads. Once again vocal samplings of what seems to be the writing desks of the NASA invade a beautiful rhythmic structure which hatch out more clearly with very good percussions flittering in wrong sense on a floating tempo. And I quite like the stereo effect which they throw in our ears on a mid-tempo slightly groovy which demand for other listenings. A beautiful sequenced line draws the spherical course of "Staging". The rhythm settles down. It’s frank and curt, bombarded by pulsations which pound frenziedly on good synth layers before being moulded in the introductory sequences and dancing on a synth of which the melodious keys escape from stormy solos and cosmic waves. "Apollo 8" looks like to be mistaken à Jarre! The rhythm is discreet and languishing, a little as the intersidereal waltzes of Oxygene, and leans on a delicate percussions play of which the wooden echoes are buried by layers of a cosmic synth stuffed with soft floating and spectral solos. A synth with tones of guitar draws a fine approach tinted by melancholy floating among winds and cosmic sound effects, while a fine stroboscopic seq uential line encircles of a hatched approach this mesmerizing cosmic and sensual duality which submerges "Apollo 8". It’s a very good title, quite as "Orbit" which presents a whole musical cocktail to the antipodes of an ambivalent emotionalism with an intense apocalyptic intro. Metallic percussions collide heavily, sequences flutter frenziedly and synth hoops crisscross in an infernal din, driving to a heavy spatial implosion. There where celestial choirs hum liberators harmonies and chords of a synth guitar float and structure a suave ode to serenity. The rhythm gets arouse towards the 4th minute spot. Keeping its melodious cachet it will go increasing, by waddling slowly on nice echoing percussions, good heavy pulsations and synth riffs of which light keys float among fine hatched circles and superb synth waves to tones of old organs. It’s very beautiful and rather moving.
A bit as a fragmented down-tempo, "Apollo 9" is fed by round and pulsating sequences as well as by hands banging and echoing percussions which lose their tempo in beautiful ambient and lunar phases. The synth is lyrical and draws some nice structures as much melodious as floating and approaches as celestial as melodramatic. "Docking" is a black cosmic lament where the solitude perspires the discomfort on a soft rhythm a bit jazzy which undulates slowly in a beautiful pond of galactic sound effects. Sharply more rhythmic "Apollo 11" bursts out in a rather synth-pop rhythmic approach, to the limit technoïd. The tempo is encircled by a stroboscopic line and fed by vocal samplings while the synth launches melodious morphic layers on rhythms which are between the energetic titles of Jarre and Element 4. It’s lively, as "ReEntry" which is on the other hand heavier and curter and which also offers good synth solo. With its light and melancholic approach, "EarthRise" reminds me of Tomita’s interpretation of Snowflakes are Dancing. Synth layers float, flutter and crisscross in a symmetric wind while fine pulsations feed a slow rhythm and that delicate isolated arpeggios draw a somber melody. Solos are the cornerstone of the heavy and languishing "Apollo 13", by far the most accessible title on Apollo. The synth forges there some pretty good melodies which escape from these tortuous solos while the rhythmic approach is structured by the warning shots of frank and curt percussions. There is something of intensely poetic and dramatic in the musical approach of "SplashDown" which encloses in beauty this 4th opus of Synth NL. It’s another great electronic ballad which sounds strangely like an intersidereal ride. Between the universe of Jarre and Thierry Fervant, sequences undulate in a static sphere filled with resonances, while the tempo runs away as a cowboy fleeing a mythical troop of dust. I find this terrific and I like this slow crescendo which increases appreciab ly the pace under solos to caustic reverberations, espousing marvellously the resonances which eat the harmonies of sequences.

Apollo is doubtless the most complete work of Synth NL. Always by leaning on structures at once complex and melodious, lying among indecisive rhythms and atmospheres, Synth NL manages to weave a musical universe where the paradoxes are in harmony with the concept of Apollo. If I have a flat it’s at the level of the vocal samplings which take too much place and annoy in the course of time. That would be better in small dose and on 2 or 3 titles, not that much. With such on use Synth NL floods a little the envy that we have to listen certain tracks over and over, I think in particular of the very beautiful "Apollo 8" and "Apollo 9". But anyway Apollo hides very beautiful pearls which will become classics of Synth. NL repertoire. Him who begins to collect them since Atmosphere.

2011. Sylvain Lupari / gutsofdarkness.com & synth&sequences.com IMO.....excellent album.

2012. Theodoros / Greece Dutchman Michel van Osenbruggen is a big fan of Jean Michel Jarre which he calls his all-time hero. The influences of the French grandmaster can be heard well in Michel’s (what’s in a name…) music. For his conceptual ideas, Michel draws upon many items. For “Apollo” he was inspired by the Apollo Moon missions, undertaken by NASA during the 60’s and 70’s of the previous century. On his website www.synth.nl a film, made by Michel himself, can be seen about the project.

The music from Michel is very imaging, like telling a story in music but without using words. On “Apollo” he tells the amazing journeys of the Apollo missions. The albums “launches” with “Launchpad” in which we hear historical spoken words. A great analog (sounding) solo is played here. Michel cleverly mixes the music of his great hero Jarre with that of other electronic musicians. In “Staging” can be heard that he works together with his fellow-Dutchman Ron Boots and in “Orbit” and “Earthrise” the grandeur of Vangelis is very present. But Jarre comes by every now and then, for instance in “Apollo 9” (just listen to some of the rhythms that a reminiscent of the ones in “Oxygene”). The big rhythms from Michel earlier albums are used in “Apollo 11” as well as “Reentry”. It all comes to an impressive epilogue in “Splashdown”.

What Michel does on his albums is a great thing, mixing wonderful and rather easy accessible electronic music with intriguing concepts. This is the perfect combination.

2011. Paul Rijkens / The Netherlands