What a year for Chris Weeks! In the space of 12 months, he’s released an album and remix album inspired by the sun; a trilogy of EPs inspired by the tide, the sea, and a sadly deceased cat; a double album inspired by the moon; and now a single album inspired by the legend of the lost cosmonaut. Bouts of creativity like this are rare, and consistent quality is even rarer. Fortunately, each release has been different from the others, and The Lost Cosmonaut incorporates lessons learned from the last few releases. Contemplation Moon was beautiful (as was its packaging), but the playing time was taxing. The Ebb and Flow tackled a general subject, but the oceans and tides have been well-covered. The concise size and concrete subject of The Lost Cosmonaut make it the artist’s best release to date, as well as a fitting debut for Odd John Records.
According to the story, the Russians launched the first cosmonauts into space in 1961, but they did not survive the trip. While monitoring the sounds of a space probe, two Italians allegedly heard the sound of fading breaths and a dying heart. Could it be true? The timeline fits – four years after Laika – and the Russians were known for their secrecy during the Cold War. No official record survives.
Weeks fills the sonic field with detritus: radio chatter on “Comms”, rocket boosters on “Thrust”. The artist’s best tracks have always been his dustiest, and The Lost Cosmonaut captures the sonic sense of cosmic debris and drift. While sound cannot travel in space, these are the sounds we would expect to hear, perhaps prepped by years of science fiction scores and effects. The metallic pings of the closing minute of “Thrust” intimate a console or beacon, while “NGC 3242” (The Ghost of Jupiter) circles like slow gravitational motion. Chimes sound in “Aeon” like church bells remembering the lost. And then the cold wind enters ~ the sound of sorrow and desolation. Hope, wonder and loneliness are mingled throughout the album. If the story of the lost cosmonaut is true, a body is floating in space, dust encased in glass or leaking through a crack. Perhaps the spirit is one with the cosmos. As sad as such a truth might be, it is also noble, reflecting the desire of man to reach beyond his grasp instead of remaining on the ground. Such is also the ambition of Weeks, who stretches his boundaries with this release. Yet fortunately, unlike his subject, this musician is not lost in space. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 28 October