Limited edition double LP on translucent vinyl!
Craig Padilla’s vinyl double LP released on Fruits de Mer records in 2014.
Sonar is a compilation of recordings by Craig from 1996 onwards, none of which have appeared on CD or vinyl before. Although they span nearly 20 years of recordings, Craig selected them to provide a consistent feel across four sides of listening – music influenced by the kosmische sounds of the 70s, but fed through 21st century equipment. Immerse yourself.
“I have always been fascinated by vinyl records as a way to listen to music. The fact that a piece of plastic with grooves can spin against a needle and play sounds that are so pure and warm simply amazes me to this day. There is a great physical and spiritual connection to the music on a record; there’s even a certain scent to the vinyl and paperwork of an album that I enjoy. I have more memories of certain songs and albums because of this physical connection that I don’t get with digital media. Since much of my music is inspired by the electronic music records of the 1970’s and 80’s and is recorded using analog equipment, I’ve always felt that it would be a perfect fit for it to be released on vinyl.” -Craig Padilla
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Craig Padilla has been making music for more than twenty years, using a range of analogue and digital synths all recorded with analogue equipment. The result of this experience and gear is this, soon to be, electronic classic that has a warm and natural feel, the music influenced by the music of the seventies and eighties with influences seeming to include Tangerine Dream, Tim Blake, Vangelis and Gong, as well as more modern bands like System 7 and The Orb, to name but a few. However this is no retro copyist, this album remains fresh and vital, bringing the genre forward whilst retaining the classic components we all love.
After the brief electronic flutter that is “In Search of Stranger Fish”, this magnificent electronic album gets seriously into its stride with “Velvet Moon” a sweeping haze of chords and sequences that takes you back to the classic sound of seventies Tangerine Dream, the sweet, floatation tank mood of the piece enhanced by a gorgeous guitar that arcs majestically overhead, the whole thing a joyous celebration of all things kosmiche and the perfect introduction to this epic journey.
As the album continues the pieces get longer, with the 14 minute “Cosmic Dawn” takings its time to emerge from a cloud of electronic noise to become a stately sequence driven tune that reminds me of the early work of Tim Blake, both with Gong and solo, whilst “Challenge Deep” has a gracefulness in its hypnotic pulses and soaring synth lines that is hard to ignore. To end the first album “Behind the Lightning” has some harsher metallic textures to begin but these soon soften into a piece of drifting ambience that twinkles inside your brain as the tempo is picked up by the sequences and subtle rhythms. On its own this album would stand as a classic of electronic music but this is only half the story as the second album contains only two tracks each a side long master class in ambient electronic music that is wholly satisfying and good for the soul.
Covering side three, the title track is the aural equivalent of watching a giant aquarium, colours flashing past, the soft pulse of the filter and an overwhelming feeling of relaxation and peace. Here, chords last forever, the sequences drift in and out like the swaying of oceanic plants in the tide, whilst sudden sparkles and flashes of synth herald the arrival of exotic fish, the sheen of sunlight on water.
On side four the mood continues as “Awaken to a Dream” continues the daydream feel, indeed on the promo CD it is hard to tell where one track ends and the other begins, although the final side is even mellower, a glorious return to reality that leaves you refreshed and ready for more.
Suffice it to say I fucking love this album, each time I have played it it has become more beautiful and essential, long may this continue.- Simon Lewis, Terrascope
My introduction to American electronic musician Craig Padilla’s music was his contribution to the Strange Fish 1 LP released last year by Fruits de Mer. Craig has been around for many years, releasing albums on multiple labels and composing soundtracks for television, theatrical and film productions. Americans will get an inkling of what Craig’s music might be about when I say that he has been featured on the “Echoes” and “Hearts of Space” radio programs. But this 2-LP compilation of music recorded from 1996 onwards is no mere New Age fluff. Padilla’s influences include Wendy Carlos, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Steve Roach, among others, and that is precisely the crowd this music will appeal to.
After a brief introductory piece, the first LP kicks off with Velvet Moon, the only track with prominent participation of guitar, which gives the music a floating electronica meets Pink Floyd feel. Cosmic Dawn has a deep space combination of electronica, Prog and classical that I enjoyed. It floats along steadily, with seductively playful melodies and multiple elements that make the music meditatively alluring yet elusively complex. It also has just enough oddball sounds to inject a welcome freaky factor to the music. Challenge Deep creates the sensation that we’re rocketing gently through the cosmos, swept along by layers of soaring electronic space waves. These are anchored by classic Schulze/Tangerine Dream syncopated patterns, giving the music a mesmerizing rhythmic quality. And Behind The Lightning is a gorgeously majestic slab of symphonic Space-Prog.
The second LP really stretches out, consisting of two 20+ minute side long expeditions. Sonar starts off with pulsating drones, angelic drifting waves, a symphonic sensation, and light melodies, before launching into a space excursion that recalls the best of 70s Klaus Schulze. The music traverses seamlessly through multiple themes, from lightly rhythmic, to sound exploratory, to floating dreamy calm. This is the kind of music you want to experience in a planetarium. Put on the headphones and gaze at the stars. Awaken To A Dream is a little different, feeling like aural brushes painting a cosmic canvas. It may be the most New Agey track of the set, but Padilla incorporates a variety of sounds that upset the typical singular New Age flow, making for a more varied and interesting experience. Overall, this 2-LP set is a great introduction to Padilla’s world.- Jerry Kranitzy, Aural Innovations
Those with fairly good memories may well recall us going gaga at the appearance in our gaff of the first five volumes of the strange fish sub imprint. In short a micro space dedicated to sounds, artists and styles somewhat falling outside the usual sonic specifics of fruits de mer and its sister label regal crabomophone. This hulking introduction to the label was set across twelve sides of heavy duty vinyl with an additional CD’s worth of cosmic dream logika specially gathered for those who bought the entire collection as one and featured 29 artists / bands / sound sculpturers. It was a massive statement from the label shifting them out of their aural comfort zone, yet simultaneously extending their sound spectrum beyond the strict confines of psych, folk, progressive and krautrock to explore the sonic sub strata existing between the gaps. One of the undoubted highlights of the collection was the whole side of volume one which was devoted to two tracks from Craig Padilla. A year on and Mr Padilla is afforded the luxury of having 4 sides of wax on which to work on courtesy of strange fish‘s 6th volume. Upon them a near two hour odyssey in the shape of a collection carefully drawn from Mr Padilla’s vast back catalogue, a body of work reflecting nearly two decades of sonic exploration, not merely slapped together but seamlessly threaded into one massive hyper gliding spacewalk. Entitled ’Sonar’, Padilla takes you on a cosmic trip for a pure electronic lunar ride both mesmerising and meditative. Utilising old school analogue synths, ’Sonar’ provides a back to future’s past exploring and paying homage to the kosmiche sounds of electronicas golden age – the 70’s – in short pure brain food. Perfect for those purists among you who these days are still attracted like moths to light to new school labels like bureau b and black sweat. Seven headphonic delights and astral voyages sit within, Padilla’s navigatory compass pointing towards the woozier outer spheres of cosmic rocks vast nebula principally triangulated by three main reference markers those being – the panoramic / filmic / soundtrack detailing of Vangelis, the pop minded melodically astute artistry of Jean Michel Jarre and the floaty unworldly dream dipped cerebral soundscapes of Tangerine Dream. Previously visited upon when it appeared as a taster on the aforementioned Mayfish sampler set, ’challenge deep’ is an exploratory cruise controlled voyager piloted by Vangelis, curvaceously tempered in bliss kissed oceanic opines and caressed in spaceous ambient expanses liberally festooned in starry garlands and mellowed in milky way mosaics. Elsewhere Padilla’s awareness of space, texture and mood is brought to the fore on the divinely mellowed and sleepy headed pulsar that is ‘cosmic dawn’ – here sumptuously bedded upon a murmuring motorik footing and shimmered in what can only be described as a deeply alluring aquatic dream coat. ’behind the lightning’ is made of darker stuff, here the mood drops a degree or two, still touched and slipstreamed in those now trademark amorphous super structures, there’s a sense of melancholic loss permeating and a hollowing futility that very much tunes into the sonic arteries of John Carpenter and the kind of bleak futurism of ‘the terminator’ and to which sounds not unlike oblique distress transmissions from a long since dead lunar outpost. All said the main attraction comes with the brace of epic cuts found lurking on sides three and four – where sit the 2 hugely expansive 20 minute plus solar symphonies – ‘Sonar’ and ‘awaken to the dream’. the former a wonderfully lushly toned and playful orbital odyssey clipped in the kind of funky after burns and possessed of the kind of lights lowered lounge-y sophisticat splendour that seductively plays tag with 90’s aural alchemists Banco de Gaia and yet simultaneously head dives into the kind of terrains still these days ventured upon by the likes of electro kraut pioneer Dieter Moebius. It is however ‘awaken to a dream’ that provides the set with its defining centrepiece, a hulking galactic day dream mirage rippling in cavernous delights and ice sculptured mosaics, a star lit harmony of the spheres softly daubed in spectral swathes and journeying towards the airless voids of the beyond, elegant, elegiac and utterly captivating.- Mark Barton, The Sunday Experience
Craig Padilla, who first surfaced on our radar on Strange Fish, returns to Fruits de Mer with Sonar, a sprawling two-album compilation of unreleased tracks transmitting from 1996 forward. Deeply rooted in the work laid down by earlier electro-ambient sound sculptors such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, Sonar is a deeply immersive listen. Though entrenched in the ’70s and covering nearly 20 years, Sonar doesn’t feel time-stamped. If you listen intently enough, you might hear slight modulations that hint at that time span, but you’ll be hard-pressed to focus on it … and that’s not where your headspace needs to be anyway. And it’s certainly not where it will end up. This is the music of the orbs, planets that see their edges not drawn at their outer crusts but incorporating the surrounding atmosphere. If they lack an atmosphere then hard lines are blurred by velvety gaseous light, reflected and refracted, given voice by Padilla. The nature of the music and Padilla’s execution don’t make places to hang onto difficult, but rather pointless. All but two cuts break the 11 minute mark, the second platter’s cuts doubling that. Once you’re down–or up—in them, coasting and gliding is the order of the day and how Padilla makes his marks on a very cosmic map reflects that. Movement isn’t in one direction, or necessarily forward. You’re in a soft, and very warm, gravity free hamster-ball riding the celestial slipstream. No bumps, no collisions, no free fall. When direction, whether on the X, Y or Z axis, shifts you’ll be hard pressed to pinpoint exactly where your view was inverted. You’ll know after the fact, a slow dawning realization like a starry pinpoint that ebbs and flows with a replicating corona that grows and dissipates simultaneously. If all that sounds like it’s disorienting, or arbitrary, Sonar is most definitely not. Sonar, like any of the seminal artists and works Padilla obviously draws inspiration from, exact location and trail blazes aren’t mandatory, but they are subjective … and extremely malleable. The map isn’t being provided, but rather the blank paper, a vista-canvas. Sonar isn’t what you need to fill it in. It’s what allows you to go beyond the edges blissfully unaware without tumbling off into the clutches of gravity. Make it your own, and by all means get lost.- Mr Atavist, Sunrise Ocean Bender
In a world of daytrippers Craig Padilla's Sonar is an odyssey length voyage. On this overtly retro work he appears to have returned to first principles - showing us what it was about this music that initially grabbed him (and has never let go). This double LP fills our mental soundspace with Padilla's previously unreleased realizations from the 1990s. Finding sonic power in simple forms the mood of each piece moves between drifting weightlessness and easy sequencer pattern propulsion. Creamy synth leads and interacting sources of sound push the mind to move continually while phasing radiant chords and twinkling modulated effects caress and engulf our attention. From a dark fragility to glowing galactic bliss Sonar was made for the listener to participate in. This music seems to pull at us with more than just sound. The ebb and flow of dream waves and sleep currents carves a channel of darkness that is thrillingly cerebral. These early works show Padilla's masterful grasp of the technology and form of Spacemusic, and may act as a reference point from which to assess where his reach has lead him.- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End