The impressive Downwind is the first release from the band under its new moniker, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, as Moerlen assumes creative control and dominance. The release marks a return to vocals/lyrics, which proves only partially successful. Moerlen's voice is a hit on the opener, the rocking "Aeroplane," and the collective vocals on the fast-paced, percussive "Jin-Go-Lo-Ba" (popularized by Santana) are right on target. His singing is weak, though, on "What You Know" and detracts from the song's quality. Mick Taylor makes his only appearance here with an exceptional guitar solo. Downwind is also a return to compositions dominated by rock structures and styles, the jazz element minimal this time around. The instrumental cuts are sublime: "Emotions" and "Xtasea" are relaxing; "Crosscurrents" and "Downwind" are energetic and exciting. The title cut is easily the highlight of the album, featuring guest appearances by Steve Winwood (Moog, synth) and guitarist Mike Oldfield. At almost 13 minutes, this thrilling composition resembles the early work of Oldfield, particularly strains of "Tubular Bells, Pt. 1," and specifically the section used for the film The Exorcist. On "Downwind," Moerlen's percussives are ablaze, recalling his "Percolations" performance from Gazeuse. Bassist Hansford Rowe is prominent, and saxophonist Didier Malherbe, a longtime Gong staple, makes his only appearance on the album.
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AllMusic Review by David Ross Smith