Space has long been a source of fascination and inspiration for electronic musicians; clips from NASA recordings have been used to give an extra depth to ambient works pretty much since the genre began. Kriipis Tulo, the Latvian musician who records as Astrowind, is no different. Fresh Wind In The Valley Of Dreams is inspired by – and dedicated to – cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov, the first man to walk in space and, later, the commander of the Russian half of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 which saw the United States and the Soviet Union work together in space for the first time.
As might be expected, clips of Leonov’s space flights make their way into Tulo’s work but they just about avoid cliché and remain unobtrusive. It is perhaps that first space-walk that informs this album more, with a real sense of weightlessness in many of the tracks; with little in way of percussion or bass, the synths and organs here sound as if they are floating without anything to anchor them to the earth. It certainly makes for an atmospheric ambient album, and there’s enough detail, outside of the radio clips, to hold the interest. Alternatively, aside from the slightly clunky transitions between tracks it’s possible to let the album play in the background and imagine drifting weightless in space oneself.
If there’s one failing of Fresh Wind In The Valley Of Dreams, it’s that Tulo favours atmosphere over anything distinctive or memorable in his arrangements. The downside of the consistency across the album is that it lacks a little character and it’s really only the piano on the penultimate track “Nocturne for Different Moons” that adds something new to the mix. As it stands, though, Astrowind has made a thoughtful album to soundtrack our dreams, as we gaze to the skies and wonder. (Jeremy Bye)