Artist: Wind Through Forever
Title: Astronaut Depression
Keywords: Alternative, Progressive, Other
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
This… very well could be just the kind of album I’d been waiting for all this time. You never really know you were waiting for it until it arrives, and then afterward you can say things like that. It’s great, because it really didn’t feel like you had to wait for the thing to actually come out, in an uncomfortable chair or something in a reception area or lobby. This process or style of waiting feels like the best we’ve developed, and I truly wish we could get all forms of waiting to work in a similar manner. But yes. Yes, this album is really cool. It’s so cool, we all might develop a clinical case of the cosmic funk just listening to it. I’ve always been a huge fan of ’70s/’80s futurism, which is what this album is heavily absorbed in. But let’s get straight to it, eh? Put on the dopest shades you’ve got within arms’ reach, a space suit if you’ve got one, and get ready for this quantum leap…
… or blast off, even!…
The first track is ‘The Dream’… and what dreams may come? This reminds me, I’ve always been kind of terrified of the concept of cryo sleep chamber containment units. What if you had a nightmare? I mean, I’m sure you’d be more likely to cycle through dreams regularly. But let’s say you were on a very long trek and out of necessity had to spend like, 100 years asleep in a pod. You’d think after maybe a few days of that you’d start becoming more lucid. And then what? And imagine coming out of a 100-year long lucid dream! You’d have probably forgotten after several decades what reality even was. “What? You’re telling me I’m not an eternal and ultra-powerful wizard with a harem of 1,000 virgins? I’m just a scientist who’s been sent to scrape up dust samples on some shitty rock in the Andromeda system??? Put me back in the pod!!!” Anyway, sorry about the detour there. The music… it begins with a recording of acoustic guitar. It’s got that sound, as though it was put to tape in the 1970s. Then… the spacy synths begin, and suddenly we’re transported to a Mort Garson-esque soundscape. The vocals remind me a little of The United States Of America, or The White Noise. This is so awesome! So vintage! It’s beautiful. The guitar, when it returns, begins to sound a little glitched up, which is interesting.
The next track, ‘On The Waves Of Sky River’, also begins with guitar and a dinky little synth line. It’s just so perfect. Very prog! This album is just blowing my mind. It makes me want to sit next to a reel-to-reel running this album, or a transistor radio on a warm Autumn night with a cup of tea and just listen to this, over and over, and maybe some electronic hums.
‘5th Day’ is utterly gorgeous. The beginning’s got a feel to it that reminds me of Robert Rental & Thomas Leer’s Interferon. It’s like… are these synths or organs? They’re kind of occupying that fuzzy ground between that some early synths tended to be stuck in. Then there’s the acoustic guitar and synthesizer-flute accompaniment afterward, it just makes you want to cry it’s so beautiful and melodically perfect.
‘Short Bus Window Blues’ has that total prog sound, guitars (both acoustic and electric this time) sing a duet together. There’s something about this that I find reminiscent of Vincent Gallo’s album When.
Oh!.. and then there’s the titular track, ‘Astronaut Depression’… it tugs the heartstrings. More acoustic guitar, synth shimmers, chime sparkle. Some chippy arpeggiations toward the end. Pure magic!
After that we get the lovely ‘Return To Forever Pt 0’, which utilizes a light phaser. It feels like the bass guitar and sweet e-piano are warping in and out.
The next track, ‘Bagpipes’… had no bagpipes in it, but that’s ok. Maybe that was the point. It certainly didn’t even need the bagpipes, I was not disappointed. It’s got very nice vocals, acoustic guitar and a bit of bass later. The melodies and arrangements are very nice.
More prog on ‘The Impression Of B’, in much the same vein you’re used to by now if you’ve been listening to everything thus far… but, with the surprising addition of a sexy fuzz guitar section which ends, tapers off and turns into another really nice acoustic section with white noise wind blowing that I found very nice in it’s restraint.
Then? It’s ‘Happiness’, a very fun track that made me happy. Love that they put this toward the end of the album, too. The guitar sounds a bit like a kazoo! The vocals are a pleasure to listen to. There’s a very weird-vibesy breakdown section in which it sounds like the strumming of strings is being flanged or phased (sometimes it is hard for me to distinguish between the two)! Oh, and the end! It’s a moving bell-tone sequence that just fills you with warmth. Again… it’s just absolute magic.
We end with ‘Wind Through Forever’, a track on which, at least at first and in the proper tradition of many albums of this kind, wants to take the time to make sure there was at least something on the album that sounded like someone freaking out on lsd, if even just a little bit. Then, it’s more lovely guitar work and subdued electronics, hushed vocals. Later, the vocals become more pronounced with the addition of an electric guitar riff, and then again we return to lush synths and guitar strumming. It sounds like I’m hearing chords held on an old rotary organ, floating into the ether. There’s a section after that almost feels thick with the scent of musky old wood and pot smoke, of black-lit basements and patchouli-ass. The reversism happening after… wow, it’s just like they’ve limited themselves so fantastically to only effects that were creatively capable in the 1960s and 1970s! This is so great. Creativity is so often borne of limitations, and this album is such an excellent example of this. The guitar springs into our ears as if in a crescendo managed by reversing the recording while organs play also in reverse-space, you hear touches of arpeggiation.
Yeah. This album… delivers. And it delivers well, with a very large modicum of respectability. This could have been made in any era, it has that timeless quality, but it still amazes me that it came out of this one, of ours. I love it. The talent is in the subtlety, too. They probably could have gone wilder, as every track more or less suggests… after all, it is prog. But, a lot of the best sounds here are the ones you’ll hear once, here and there, in the flit a second. These “happy accidents” illustrate that the artists are capable of calculated imperfections that give the music this feel of living, of breathing, and showcase however briefly their sonic capabilities. Technically, this is a very well made album across the board, and there’s a lot of sound here to find pleasure in. You’ll want it, you need it… especially if you’re even remotely interested in prog, 70s futurism, and listening to chill music. You simply must hear it, I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is. I’ll just go ahead and give you the link! 😉