APOLLO 11: QUARANTINE
'APOLLO 11' took us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. As the world celebrated their historic achievement, the crew’s mission would not be complete until returning safely to earth and undergoing a three-week medical quarantine.
APOLLO 11: QUARANTINE (NEON, CNN Films, IMAX) celebrates this lesser known story of personal sacrifice and stoic resolve and while offering an enduring message of hope during these unprecedented times.
A short film by Todd Douglas Miller
IMAX January 29 (2021)
Available On Demand February 5
Music by Matt Morton (Film & Trailer)
'APOLLO !!: QUARANTINE' Trailer
Electric Pioneers: Charlie Duke and the Porsche Taycan
(short PR video)
As the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 16, Charles ‘Charlie’ Duke became the tenth person to step onto the moon and one of only six people to experience the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) - one of the most advanced, innovative electric vehicles ever. And yet, until recently, he hadn’t driven an electric car on earth. To mark the 50th anniversary of the first LRV landings on the lunar surface, he did just that. Behind the wheel of a Porsche Taycan.
I pre-scored this short film, meaning that I wrote the music based on a phone conversation with the director (J.F. Musial / TangentVector), and then the filmmakers edited the film to follow the music.
The piece begins with my period 'APOLLO 11' palette (Moog IIIc modular synth, tube-driven Binson Echorec 2, piano, and strings), and then I added more modern instruments as our focus shifts to the Taycan.
Porsche also gave me 13 recordings of the Taycan to incorporate into my score - from idle to acceleration to deceleration to engine shutdown. Some I left "natural", and some I mangled to the point that they started to sound like a cross between a spaceship and a synth.
'APOLLO !!: QUARANTINE' Trailer
(I will be releasing this score track as a single via the major digital distributors (Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon) in early 2021.)
Pikes Peak: On The Edge
(Three-part documentary series)
The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place on a 12.42 mile (19.99 km) public toll road boasting 156 turns, while competitors climb 4,720 ft. (1,440 m.) from the 9,390 ft. (2,862 m.) Start Line at Mile 7 marker on the Pikes Peak Highway to the 14,115 ft. (4,300 m) Finish Line at the mountain’s summit.
You can stream all three episodes of this series on the MotorTrend App.
Matt contributed two tracks to these films.
Directed by J.F. Musial (TangentVector)
Pikes Peak: On The Edge Trailer (not Matt's music)
'HEAVY: Fury v Schwarz'
'HEAVY: Fury v Schwarz' is a short documentary by Peter Berg and Film 45 for Top Rank Boxing and ESPN about Tyson Fury's defense of his lineal heavyweight title against Tom Schwarz in June 2019.
In addition to the entire fight, the film shows behind-the-scenes footage of the fighters' lives (including candid moments with their families) in the days leading up to it, as well as their backstage interaction afterwards.
“We are excited to provide a raw and intimate account of the Tyson Fury vs. Tom Schwarz fight,” said Berg. “The documentary takes viewers into the minds and lives of the boxers as they navigate the pressures of the mentally and physically taxing sport.”
'HEAVY: Fury v Schwarz' Official Trailer
(documentary trailer cue)
'Electronic Voyager' Official Trailer (Matt's cue plays from 2:01 till the end)
Listen to the single now on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, or YouTube!
(note: this track is being migrated from Milan Records to Sony Music, so it may be unavailable for a short period)
'Electronic Voyager' trailer
'Electronic Voyager' is slated for release in 2020. Now in the final stages of post-production, the film is raising finishing funds via Indiegogo.
From Waveshaper Media, the Toronto-based production company behind the pivotal electronic music documentary 'I Dream Of Wires' (seen widely on Netflix) comes 'Electronic Voyager', a new feature-length documentary on electronic music pioneer Bob Moog. We follow his daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, on an emotional road trip across North America and Europe, retracing her father’s groundbreaking footsteps. Michelle’s voyage is an effort to reconcile the father she knew with the world-famous icon and inventor of the legendary Moog synthesizer, the late Dr. Robert Arthur Moog (1934 - 2005).
Matt was honored to be asked to compose the final 1:33 cue in the official trailer and to be an Executive Producer on the project. His track, "The Godfather of It All", comes in at 2:01 and plays until the end.
'Apollo 11' features never-before-seen film footage of NASA’s historic first successful mission to land a man on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The film world premiered and competed in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival (where it won the Special Jury Award for Editing), and it will be distributed theatrically worldwide by Neon, and on TV in the US by CNN Films. Out in IMAX exclusively for one week starting March 1st, then everywhere March 8th.
Official film site: Apollo11movie.com
Matt wrote, orchestrated, performed, recorded, and mixed all of the original music for the film, as well as the teaser trailer and the theatrical trailer. Every instrument and effect used in the score existed at the time of the mission in 1969 including the Moog modular Synthesizer IIIc (see below), the Binson Echorec 2 (tube echo), the Mellotron (early keyboard sampler used by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.), and the orchestra.
There will also be a CD release on June 28th, and a vinyl release on July 19, 2019 (the day before the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing). The vinyl preorder for 100 copies signed by Matt and Director/Producer Todd Douglas Miller is up now on Rough Trade Records!
Crafting the Score of APOLLO 11 with Matt Morton
'Apollo 11' Theatrical Trailer
'Apollo 11' Teaser Trailer
Apollo 11 Production Journal - Composer Matt Morton
In the spring of 2017 when I found out I was going to have the honor of scoring this film, the historical importance of the Apollo 11 Mission almost paralyzed me - how could I ever do it justice? I'm a huge science nerd, and I put humankind's first steps on an alien world right up there with the first time a fish walked on land. It was an evolutionary milestone. How do you put that into music? And on the other hand, considering the huge number of films and film scores that had already been made on the subject, how would I find a unique way to score it?
I approached it like a method actor, by exhaustively researching the mission and all of the films that were made about it. I read tons of books and watched and rewatched every documentary and narrative film about the Apollo Program that I could find. I revisited the music of the time (I've loved 1960s music my whole life), and the ways that authors and the general public reacted to the event when it happened. And since the action centers on the astronauts and mission control, I also tried to think about what it must have felt like to be one of them at each step of the way. I knew Todd (the director) wanted it to feel like you're right there with them on the mission, so the score needed to ratchet up the tension and excitement that they were all experiencing.
But I also thought it was important that, since we'd only be seeing archival footage from 1969, we should only hear sounds that could have been made at the time of the mission. A lot of the 'Apollo 11' team (including Todd and I) also worked on 'The Last Steps', a short documentary about our last manned mission to the Moon, Apollo 17 in 1972. Like 'Apollo 11', that film used all archival footage, but for that score, I used any instrument or effect that fit my approach to the scene, including modern ones. I love that score in its own right, but one of my thoughts after the fact was that it sometimes took me out of the feeling of "being there" in 1972 when I heard modern-sounding drum loops or super-lush digital reverbs. So when we got the chance to tell Apollo 11's story, I got to learn from that experience and try a new approach.
My breakthrough, as far as narrowing down my approach and palette for the score, came when I started thinking about the fact that at the time, the Apollo Program was at the absolute cutting edge of science and technology. The sheer amount of money spent (around 3% of our GDP) and the number of people working on it (over 400,000 people) have been credited with fast-forwarding the normal pace of technological innovation by about 10-20 years. I started thinking about whether there were any parallels in the music world of the time. Were there any technological developments happening then that lead to new types of music being made? What was the avant garde music of the time like? And would any of that new music and music technology be useful in scoring a dangerous and heart-racing space adventure in a 6.5 million pound rocket?
My answer was the synthesizer and the huge world of electronic and experimental music that it enabled after its development in the 1960s. In 1963-1964, Bob Moog (in upstate New York) and Don Buchla (in San Francisco) were each independently developing the first modern (non-room-sized) modular synthesizers, unaware of each other's work at opposite ends of the country. They steadily refined and expanded these instruments throughout the decade and they began being used by the few commercial composers and university professors who could get access to them (at the time, they cost the equivalent of a house). In 1968, Wendy Carlos released her album 'Switched On Bach' (which were multi-tracked recordings of classic Bach pieces played entirely on a Moog synthesizer), and after its release, the Moog synthesizer blew up. In the years that followed, the synthesizer began being used on recordings by mainstream artists like The Beatles, The Who, Keith Emerson, and Pink Floyd, as well as electronic music pioneers like Tangerine Dream, Isao Tomita, Suzanne Ciani, Kraftwerk, and Giorgio Moroder. Today, the synthesizer's reach is immense, but it had its big bang around the time of the Apollo 11 Mission. The futuristic sound of the synthesizer also fit in perfectly with the technological focus and futuristic look of our film.
So by late 2017, I had decided to only use instruments and effects of that were available in 1969, but I didn't actually own any synthesizers older than my Moog Minimoog Model D (which was released in 1970). This is when I got lucky. That year, Moog Synthesizers had decided to build (reissue) 25 of their classic Synthesizer IIIc modular synthesizers using the same parts and construction methods they used back in 1968. I decided to make the (sizable) investment to buy one of them and use it as a central voice in my score. When I combined the Moog IIIc with other vintage pieces including a Binson Echorec 2 (an early tube echo restored and modified by Soundgas Ltd.), a Mellotron (an early tape-based keyboard sampler), a 1965 Hammond A-143 Organ, a Leslie (rotating) Speaker, various guitar tube amps, spring and plate reverbs, early drum machines like the Maestro Rhythm King and Ace Tone Rhythm Ace, and an Echoplex EP-2 (a tube tape echo), I had a formidable palette of period sounds for the score. I started experimenting with all the gear and seeing what kinds of sounds I could get out of them. I produced hours of music that no one will ever hear, but some of those experiments actually made it into the final score, including the opening cue "The Burdens and the Hopes" which plays under the suiting-up and leaking valve scenes. I've also posted a few of my synth and musique concrete experiments (the ones I knew wouldn't work in the film) on my Instagram. The only other ingredient was the orchestra, which of course also existed at the time.
My original concept for the compositions was to make them sound like they were archival just like the film footage, or in other words, to make it sound like they were written, played, and recorded in 1969 by musicians and engineers of the time. But then I realized I could never really do that - it would only ever be an emulation. It wouldn't ring true because as an artist, in order to get the best music out of myself, I have to stay authentic to myself and my tastes, and I live in the present. I wasn't born until 1977, and I didn't start playing my first instrument (guitar) until 1986. So I decided the most interesting thing I could do was to make modern compositions, but because I'd be using the instruments and effects of 50 years ago, they'd probably be a unique mixture of then and now and help to bridge the time gap between the people on the screen and the people in the audience.
'THE LAST STEPS'
On December 7, 1972, NASA launched Apollo 17, a lunar mission crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt. It would be the last time humans traveled beyond low Earth orbit, the last time humans landed on another celestial body, and the last time humans went to the moon.
'The Last Steps' uses seldom-seen, newly-restored archival footage to recreate this record-setting, heart-pounding mission.
The 30-minute cut of this film premiered at the 2016 Hamptons International Film Festival, and won 'Best Short Documentary' at the 2017 Black Hills Film Festival. Matt scored both the film and the trailer.