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|Craig Padilla |
The music of Craig Padilla’s GENESIS consists of creation-inspired electronic ambiences that are woven from elements of new synthesis forms as well as vintage analog instrumentation. The resulting music will please anyone who enjoys electronic music that is timeless and yet current, bold and yet subtle, melodic while remaining ambient. Genesis takes place inside the listener’s mind and spirit.
US-synthesist Craig Padilla already brought us the very nice album ‘Echo System’ with Paul Ellis in spring of 2004.
Well, he’s not done yet, as his second Spotted Peccary solo-release ‘Genesis’ has been released. And what an awesome music it has become. Padilla’s exquisite blend of analogue and digital sound textures is able to transports the fans of his deep ambient music to the heavens for 70 minutes.
The gracious music on the four extended tracks are of ongoing evolvement, they really touch the emotional spot as they unwind in their own pace.
The title track is a delicately moving, soft swirling landscape of sequences and ambient textures.
‘Moon Tides’ offers some great introspective ambient dwellings, halfway masterfully entering space territory.
The same goes for ‘Ascension’, an enthralling and true inward journey with a distinct sense of melancholy.
The 23-minute closing track ‘Message from Within’ is another highlight.
Its vast space-textures keep unfolding, sound patterns are layered over and over again and keep building as my mind partially wandered off to some grand music Schulze made in the late ’70.
All in all a great achievement and an absolute must-have for ambient fans.
Very well done, Craig!
In the liner notes, Craig Padilla writes about being affected by the ‘cyclical nature of our lives, and of the universe itself’ while he awaited the birth of his first child. Padilla, an underrated and relatively unheralded ambient and Berlin school EM artist, shows that using such deep musings as inspiration pays superb dividends on this, his latest recording. Genesis contains all manner of retro-goodness, combining the sequencer style of Berlin EM with some classic analog spacemusic soundscapes that hearken back to that genre's golden era of the '80s. As a Spotted Peccary album, engineering and production are flawless, the soaring and floating analog keyboards in the spacier tracks sound heavenly.
Genesis contains four songs, the shortest being thirteen and the longest clocking in at twenty-three. The opening title number (the most overt Germanic cut on the CD) is impressive, comprised of pulsing beats, flowing keyboards, propulsive retro synthesizers and a sound mix so dense that you could spend hours dissecting all the elements as they race pell-mell toward the song's conclusion at the twenty-minute mark. As with some of the ‘new’ practitioners of today's EM scene (e.g. Paul Ellis, Dom F. Scab, and Rudy Adrian, to name just three), Padilla is not interested in just re-hashing the past glories of Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream. Instead, while there are moments of familiarity scattered throughout this song, its slow but deliberate evolution offers plenty of exciting wrinkles and moments of ‘Cool!’ for even jaded listeners.
‘Moon Tides’ shifts gears to outer space, ushered in by deep drones and reverberating lower register bell tones, evoking a cosmos rich with mystery and beauty. Synth strings are exquisitely layered in and impart a sensation of movement through the stars. Later, there is the addition of deeply echoed piano and slowly swirling keyboards, joined even later by flutes (synth) and mellotrons and a delightfully delicate sequence of plucked strings. Of particular note is the flute and how expressively Padilla controls it, lilting gracefully against the lush textures and percolating sequence.
The last two cuts (’Ascension’ and ‘Message from Within’) are drifting, yet powerful, retro spacemusic songs. Unlike Jonn Serrie's early work, Padilla appears to have been more influenced by Michael Stearns, Constance Demby and Kevin Braheny, since the music has a lot of emotional ‘pull’ with extensive use of broad expanses of analog keyboards against whooshing tones and spacy effects of twinkling synths suggesting starfields ablaze with light. While I hesitate to use this word, a good descriptor might be ‘majestic.’ ‘Ascension’ brims with one powerful ‘wave’ of music after another coming at you. Later in the song, there is an undeniable feeling of positive powerful emotion, e.g. hope, joy, even exultation perhaps. The analog keyboards seem to sweep you up and carry you aloft (hence, no doubt, the title).
‘Message from Within’ is the magnum opus closing track (just twenty-three minutes long) and explores only slightly less transcendent sonic terrain then the previous number. I feel comfortable comparing this recording to, for example, Constance Demby's Novus Magnificat because so few spacemusic albums were/are this overtly celebratory of the beauty of the universe, a trait that is easily recognizable throughout Genesis. Comprised of an entire arsenal (or so it seems) of analog and digital keyboards and synths (chorales, strings, outer space/SF effects galore), ‘Message from Within’ also re-introduces sequenced notes and pulsing rhythms in its mid-section, to excellent effect, breaking up what could tend to be monotonous at such an extreme duration for the song.
One aspect of spacemusic, versus ambient music, is how rewarding it is to delve headfirst into and be absorbed by, as opposed to electronic ambient recordings which sometimes ask nothing more than a casual connection. While Genesis could be enjoyed while you are occupied with superficial activities, I suspect that direct listening (in a darkened room) would prove more fulfilling. In addition, the Berlin school EM aspects to the recording give the CD an exciting dual nature, so that regardless which of these two genres you are in the mood for, the CD will almost assuredly fit the bill. Genesis merits a ‘highly recommended’ from this lover of both genres.- Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire (Bill Binkelman)
Genesis’ is a new ‘Berlin School’ release and one that fans of the genre should immediately seek out as it is a nice combo of old and new strengthened by the emotional expressiveness of the composer/performer. For inspiration, Padilla leans more toward the earlier works of Klaus Schulze than some of the other Berlin school innovators, but he adds so much to it with his sound design and expression that he is really his own man. Another exciting aspect of this release is that many of the synthesizers being used appear to be analog, which gives an overall warm character to the recording.
The record starts out with a piece that is chock full of short, bouncy, optimistic motives that overlap to create new patterns. The sequences serve to shape the other material and drive the piece. The piece is both driving and relaxing at the same time and the overall mood is one of energetic happiness. I had a slight niggle with the quantity of white noise effects that bring the piece to a close, but it was an excellent start to the recording; mellotronish pads, bubbly sequences and the like were presented effectively and in a charming fashion. ‘Moon Tides’ is a slower piece, beginning in the tradition of Schulze's slower pieces with pretty ambient pads and plucked sounds gradually coming into focus. The guitar/sitar-sounding solo has a relaxed, improvisatory feel to it. A swirling sequence, evoking the spirit of Schulze's ‘Mirage’ gives way to gentle patter of activity that sounds like the listener is walking in the middle of a mist only this time the listener is hyper aware of everything around. It is a very nice sound picture and a nice way to gradually close the piece. ‘Ascension’ begins with a slow, evocative soundscape that gradually transforms itself into a remarkable piece. Here I feel that an entire expressive world of sound was created and the primary impressions I received while listening were those of wonder and ecstasy. The piece is not particularly fast, the sound design is first rate and allows Padilla to emote very effectively. Really, this piece is worth the price of admission and represents the best of this genre.
The final track, ‘Message from Within’ starts nicely, with all the effects tools for a Schulzian journey into minor-key ambience; mellotron choir sounds, lush string pad sand a nice morphing filter applied to the works. Padilla is particularly effective in sustaining musical interest with the synth effects such as chirping filter overdriving and other such stock of the Berlin school musician. The piece continues in the above vein quite nicely until some light percussion is introduced. This is tasteful and unobtrusive, but I felt that the piece began to lose a little steam here. It ends with a nicely executed melodic excursion, with the lead melody generated by a harpsichord sound. This was nicely done, but not up to the level of the rest of the recording.
Don't let the minor quibbles put you off from what is otherwise a very enjoyable listening experience. I do recommend this recording highly.- Mark Morton, Ambient Visions
We recently received a package of CDs from the Spotted Peccary label that included a collection of great ambient and new age music. One of these CDs was Craig Padilla’s Genesis, a gorgeous set of ambient space music.
If you’re familiar with American ambient classics like Michael Stearn’s Planetary Unfolding or Kevin Braheny’s The Way Home, you’ll be familiar with the general territory that Padilla explores on this CD. The tracks are all long explorations of ambient synth textures, with an emphasis on attractive, harmonious sound.
The music has a bit of a classic space music feel, and the titles (Genesis, Moon Tides) seem to reflect this. The tracks on Genesis are relatively static, featuring drifting clouds of electronic sound. While the music doesn’t take you from point A to point B, it encourages you to take a trip wherever your mind wanders.
The highlight of the CD is Padilla’s sumptuous electronic orchestration. The soundscapes that Padilla creates seem to envelope you, and, while the soundscapes are relatively static, new sounds and textures are continuously emerging that reward active listening.
In addition to the music, we were impressed by the classy packaging for the CD. It features beautiful abstract art that seems perfectly in tune with the music.
All around, Craig Padilla’s Genesis is a lovely release. We’ll look forward to hearing more from Padilla and the Spotted Peccary label.- Synthtopia
For a guy who professes not to care much for newer forms of Berlin School EM, I certainly find myself listening to and enjoying much of it. At the forefront of this wave of new artists is Craig Padilla whose Vostok was one of my favorites of 2002--a chilled, icy landscape; an hour of drifting ice floe synths. Padilla returns with his latest for the Spotted Peccary label, Genesis. At first listen, Genesis is far, far different from the somewhat static and ambient environs of Vostok--this is the kinetic, cosmic Padilla, very much in the style of past German electronic music, but new, fresh and vibrant in sound.
The monumental ‘Genesis’ opens the album, a twenty-minute frenzy of shifting sequencers. Bold sequences bubble to the surface, a mixture of both classic synthwork in the Michael Hoenig style and ambient-techno atmospherics that would not be out of place on an Irresistable Force album. Gusty wind and oceanic sounds give the track an ethereal quality, complimenting the charged and exciting phasing of synth sequences rather unusually. This is beautiful material, on par with ‘Departure from the Northern Wasteland’ by the before-mentioned Hoenig and ‘Toward the Dream’ on Steve Roach's masterful Dreamtime Return--a searing whirlwind of extremely emotional, yet classic in feel, electronic music. ‘Moon Tides’ calms the atmosphere down with bell tones and melancholy synth pads. A lone piano melody intones now, and we have returned to that misty shore Ashra works such as New Age of Earth occupy--twilit, haunting, the far horizon within view. At the seven minute mark, a mellotron enters the scene, echoing Stratosfear. The percolating sequence that follows is delightful, propelling the music along while maintaining the haunting ambient flavor of the earlier sections of the track. ‘Moon Tides’ finishes up like classic Tangerine Dream, a lovely reminder of why we were so enamored with electronic music in the first place.
Next up is ‘Ascension,’ another sweeping ambient piece featuring the unlikely addition of guitar playing that vaguely echoes Ennio Morricone. Synth-wind phasing and desolate planets are recalled, and when the synth harmonics sweep in, we are smack dab in Klaus Schulze's Timewind rewritten and updated for 2004. Perhaps the sounds and contexts here ape Schulze a little too closely, but I'm the kind of listener who got chills anyway, just as I did when I first heard Timewind. This track, though modern, echoes all the great kosmiche classics of yesterday, without seeming hackneyed or a recapitulation of what's been done before. The final track, ‘Message from Within,’ is the most modern of space music, rather like a meatier and less flighty Jonn Serrie. Interstellar winds and lovely synthwork color the sky, somehow wistful, as a stargazer might look at the heavens knowing that in all likelihood he will never get out there--continuing to gaze, nonetheless. This, the longest track on the album, is masterful; the kind of space music you'd love to listen to for an entire evening under the stars in your own neighborhood, a celestial brotherhood present wherever you happen to be. It changes gradually, eventually introducing a down-tempo sequence, morphing almost continuously till the end, which comes all too soon.
To put it briefly, Craig Padilla has crafted his masterpiece with Genesis. Everything about this album has ‘new classic’ written all over it. I'm unable to put a finger on just why most of the modern artists of Berlin School electronic music don't satisfy me--obviously, it's not the style itself, because Padilla's album has hit all the right notes and spots for this listener. Certainly, the album contains nothing we haven't heard before, but I think that's missing the point. While Genesis breaks no new ground, it does manage to freshen and revitalize an often slavishly imitated style of music, instilling it with the same joy we felt when we heard the originators' lauded works. While fans of pure ambient music will find this album a touch too active or too light for their tastes, I heartily recommend Genesis to all who look back on the ‘Golden Age’ of synth-based electronic music with nostalgia. A fine effort.- Brian Bieniowski, Wind and Wire (Brian Bieniowski)
Craig Padilla accomplishes a daring futuristic jump in this album. Moving away from the most typical outlines of Ambient and Space Sequencer Music, he merges rhythm and melody in the suite after which the CD is named, as well as in other passages of the album, in such a way that ge succeeds in making it difficult for us to decide where one ends and the other begins. The result is impressive, and not only due to the complexity in timbre, but also because of the grandeur of orchestrations and arrangements.- Edgar Kolger, Amazing Sounds
As with any technology driven artform, electronic musicians are often subject to the ‘imitation vs inspiration’ debate: is this music merely variations on earlier works, or the result of hardware upgrades? or is it an ever-evolving method of self-expression, validating for artist and enlightening for audience? A convincing force for the inspiration argument is Craig Padilla. His sweeping sonic works are personal portrayals of the internal workings of the universe; an attempt to connect the scientific with the spiritual - our inner and outer landscapes. His album Genesis (71'17’) is an artful weave of energized, propulsive rhythms, swelling melodies and gorgeous synthesized texture and harmony. With little vertical development, the four pieces advance horizontally across an aural plane of mysterious dark matter and fiery cosmic birth. From the mechanistic patterning of the title track (20'31’) to the drifting space and gentle comfort of ‘Moon Tides’ (13'19’), Genesis covers a wonderful range of spacemusic experiences. But as cerebral as this genre is, it is the heart that makes music out of noise. With insightful listening, we become indistinctly conscious of the spirit of this album... the search for the artist in his work.- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End
The second album by Berlin-based electronic music guru Craig Padilla, Genesis offers more than the usual noodly drones that all too often pass for modern synthesizer music. Perhaps as a musical pun on the album's title and biblical concept, Genesis trades in the icy modernity of his debut, 2002's Vostok, for a sound that consciously refers back to the beginnings of European electronic music, from Tangerine Dream's pulsating epics (none of the album's four songs are under 13 minutes, and two are over 20) to the archetypal space rock of Klaus Schulze or Cluster. Although fans of Kraftwerk or Neu!-style Krautrock might not be as impressed by this percussion-free music, the overall feel of the album, particularly on the liquid, slowly drifting ‘Moon Tides’ and the extremely Krautrock-inspired ‘Ascension’ (which includes a heavily processed, reverb-heavy guitar alongside the vintage synth sounds), is very much in keeping with the more gentle end of European progressive music of the '70s.- Stewart Mason, AllMusic.com