This music has been traveling in my iPod for years. I was actually quite surprised to learn that there are no professional reviews about the album. Perhaps ambient music can be hard to evaluate by general musical standards, as some may see it lacking all the narrativity "real" music should contain. But I think this is a misjudgment, as "Music for Astronauts and Cosmonauts" is actually quite an imaginative work.
The record is inspired by a space flight. It is designed to last as long as a regular flight around the Earth. The album is bookended by "Countdown" and "Take off" in the beginning, and "Into landing" in the end. "Take off" is a happily pulsating, hopeful ditty for a starting space explorer, and "Into Landing" resounds with some world-(or cosmos-?) weariness and peace acquired after an enlightening voyage. Between these tunes, normal gravity and time just don't apply...
"Morning", "Day", "Evening" and "Night" are all 22:30 minutes long compositions. Listening to them while doing household chores creates a subtle hypnosis. I notice myself drifting in and out of the music, returning to it every time more alert and refreshed. Often I just let it pass somewhere in the background and suddenly I get sucked back into it.
The diurnal dramaturgy is a simple one. The morning's optimistic harmonies gradually grow into a day, filled with casual worries and hurries. The evening is, actually, the darkest hour, whereas the night is a liberating lullaby.
The undulating musical patterns are too layered to get boring or predictable. "Morning" introduces another theme around the midway, and "Day" changes mood with quick, nervous beats, that vanish almost as quick as they came. "Evening" reminds me of stars illuminating amidst the vast darkness, and "Night" chugs softly along, like a sleeper car of a night train.
This album is quite an experience, although I'm fully aware it's not to everybody's taste. But even if you can't listen to it while gliding on your skis through Finnish snow on a sunny day, like I did this winter, it's recommendable for any ears with predilection to ambient soundscapes.