Being Of Light

Howard Givens / Craig Padilla

Being Of Light


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About Being Of Light


1   Clearing The Mind

2   Threads Of Thought

3   A Contemplative State

4   Being Of Light

Seasoned veterans of the ambient and deep-experiential forms of electronic music, Howard Givens and Craig Padilla continue their soul-searching quest to express a symbiosis of music with contemplative self-examination and enlightenment on their second collaboration, BEING OF LIGHT.

Comprised of four tracks, the 70 minute BEING OF LIGHT conveys the duo’s interest in longer-form expressions of harmonic color and ambient electronic subtlety. Viscous sonic textures are extracted from an expansive palette of electronic and acoustic instruments as the music steadily unfolds, ebbing and flowing through muted moments of tension, release, mystery, and peace. As with the duo’s previous highly-regarded collaboration, LIFE FLOWS WATER, this album is built around a combination of modular, vintage analog, and digital synthesizers, only this time they are blended together with grand piano, electric guitar, and various other expressive instruments.

Weaving melodic phrases and rich textures through rhythmic structures and sequences, Givens and Padilla create deep interludes and expansive passages that exemplify the inspiration behind the project – to musically express the state of awareness that comes through the discovery of one’s “inner being” and pure essence. With BEING OF LIGHT, Howard Givens and Craig Padilla emphasize a visceral and enveloping experience, conceptually envisioning the album as a topology of energy where the individual is a single point of light, solitary and self-aware, yet melded into the sum of all light, complete in the totality of existence.


In creating Being of Light, Howard Givens and Craig Padilla aspired to “musically express the state of awareness that comes through the discovery of one's ‘inner being' and pure essence.” A lofty goal perhaps, but if anyone would seem to be capable of achieving it, it's Givens and Padilla, who collectively bring decades of experience to their second full-length collaboration. Givens, with more than thirty years of ambient electronic production under his belt, long ago mastered the technical demands necessary for realizing his musical goals; much of his energy, then, is directed towards achieving an organic result that's rich in emotional expression. To that end, he augments his electronic arsenal of vintage analog and digital synthesizers with acoustic instruments, such as piano, guitars, and percussion. Like Givens, Padilla draws upon decades of experience in ambient electronic production, uses vintage analog and digital synthesizers to generate his material, and is careful to ensure technology never displaces the human dimension in his creations. Rather than denying the traditions out of which their work arises, the two honour their forebears by invigorating that tradition in their productions. On this latest collaboration, the two create a long-form soundscape that's as voluptuous as it is immersive and enveloping. Though four tracks are titled and indexed, the recording generally plays as a deep, seventy-minute travelogue; said indexing isn't imposed arbitrarily, however, as there are subtle contrasts in tone and sound design that emerge between the sections. Being of Light takes little time to establish its expansive soundworld, starting as it does in “Clearing the Mind” with a brilliant palette of pulsations, whooshes, and synthetic textures. That aforementioned acoustic dimension also doesn't take long to declare itself when piano chords enter the scene two minutes in, an effective contrast to the deep electronic character that otherwise dominates. Eased expertly into the soundscape, the listener relaxes, content to luxuriate in the harmonic mass Givens and Padilla provide. One of the recording's most appealing features is the modulations in density that occur, with the creators alternating between multi-layered panoramas and calm, stripped-down sequences where the focus shifts to grand piano. “Threads of Thought” subsequently opens with softly murmuring swells that form a ponderous base for delicate guitar textures that, much like the piano in the first track, grow progressively more dominant as the piece advances. As satisfying as those initial settings are, it's the album's thirty-minute third track, “A Contemplative State,” that is its towering achievement. The way Givens and Padilla maintain flow and sustain interest over the course of its half-hour duration is nothing short of remarkable, especially when the number of elements they work with is relatively minimal. Stretching out without seeming end, church organ-like chords intone dramatically and blend with synthesizer tones to form a large-scale drone whose subtle ebb and flow suggests the glacial movements of some massive galaxial entity. Slight dissonances emerge in the clustering of elements to add mystery to the atmospheric effect, tones occasionally swoop and pitch-shift in a manner similar to a steel guitar, and the trance-inducing close impresses as particularly transporting. The peaceful ambiance of that five-minute ending carries over into the closing title track, whose gently floating melodies end the album on a quietly radiant and even wistful note that suits the recording perfectly. However grandiose a conception it might appear on paper, the collaborators' envisioning of the album as a “topology of energy,” where the individual constitutes a single entity that's at the same time aware of its connection to the universal whole, feels successfully realized in sonic terms. Being of Light is ambient sound-sculpting at its finest, though that shouldn't come as a total surprise when one considers the calibre of talent involved in its creation. - Ron Schepper, Textura
Craig Padilla has been composing long-form deep space epics for over twenty years, with over two dozen releases to his credit; his first release for the Spotted Peccary label was the ambient masterpiece Vostok way back in 2002, with at least six more releases for the label in the years since. Howard Givens has an even longer career going back thirty or more years, but without nearly as many releases, though he is the founder of the Spotted Peccary label (their very first release was his project Brain Laughter's In the Land of Power) and produces and engineers nearly all of the releases on the label, as well as for other artists in a similar vein like Steve Roach. This is the duo’s second collaboration, the first being 2015’s essential release Life Flows Water. The release at hand, Being of Light, is an expansive widescreen ambient panorama that moves forward at a measured pace, but remains full of electronic subtleties and beautiful washes of harmonic color, primarily electronic but punctuated with acoustic and electric instrumentation (piano, guitar) and mysterious and mesmerizing textures borne of modular synths and visionary studio techniques. The disc opens with “Clearing the Mind,” a mostly electronic piece that builds itself slowly over its thirteen minutes around two repeated chords played on a grand piano, which by the end becomes the backbone of the piece. Following that, we have the nearly fifteen minute “Threads of Thought” that stretches out to further horizons, now introducing the electric guitar into the mix with a dreamy wash of synths. The album’s centerpiece is the 30+ minute aptly titled “A Contemplative State,” a deep reflective wall of interacting elastic synth threads that is constantly in motion yet still capable of inducing a near-dreamlike state if that’s where the listener chooses to go, though this disc can be experiences on many different levels. The title track closes the set nicely, ten minutes of slow evolution and expansive states that are at once deep, captivating and stunningly beautiful. - Peter Thelen, Exposé
Sound reflections dance in troubled waters while a heavy dark veil covers the static agitations of "Clearing the Mind"s introduction. Multiple chords turn and stroll there, like sonic verses which try to get out of a musical manuscript, entailing in a harmonious trail these sweet nightingale singings sculptured in synths as analog as digital. The whole thing releases a structure of embryonic rhythm of which the fluidity is flooded in an intense veil of immersive tones. And from the first moments on this 2nd collaboration Givens/Padilla, we notice the depth of this delicious pallet of sounds and among which the switching phases between electronic, electric and acoustic have made the delights of Life Flows Water. Discreet, the piano becomes more and more incisive, throwing a more dramatic shade to a phase which already goes in transit towards another one which is more poetic. Our ears are attracted to a well of sounds which spin like these dusts of prisms that a camera picks in a dainty swirl of dust and pollen by a radiant afternoon at springtime. Very lyrical, this second phase of "Clearing the Mind" spreads its charms and its synth beams which give a so tonal flavor and celestial than very esoteric to the music of the American duet. A movement of rhythm, always so silent as at the beginning, add a more intense depth to this dance of prism and to this embryonic melody of a piano always in mode evasive and melancholic. It's the piano, and its notes divided between the black and the white, which guides the lyrical dance of "Clearing the Mind" and who quietly drains its energy in a more ethereal finale.

Produced by the label Spotted Peccary, “Being of Light” is proposed as a manufactured CD with a very beautiful digipack 4 panels artwork as well as in download of high quality on the Bandcamp site of the American label. And this 2nd collaboration between Howard Givens and Craig Padilla is in the same dimension as Life Flows Water with a music which oscillates wonderfully between rhythms for soft legs and ambient structures of a sound aestheticism rich in forms and in tonal colors. "Threads of Thought" follows with slow movements of scarlet colors anesthetic layers which rush towards our ears at the same speed as these gigantic ink stains from a majestic octopus which melt in the ocean. A delicious line of bass pulsations weaves a delicate rhythm to which is added a guitar and from which the persevering harmonies decrease the load of these layers which finally give a spectral touch to "Threads of Thought". The sequences limp and galvanize a structure of ambient rhythm and of which the sound duel between both surrounding areas of Givens/Padilla gives a dimension of organic life. "A Contemplative State" manages its 30 minutes with a meditative approach which depicts the depth of its title. It's very ambient with sometimes contrasted movements and interlacing of apathetic lines which melt themselves with very subdued points of harmonies and intensity which take shape in the gravity of tones. This is a long apathetic journey that we have to follow closely in order to differentiate these more celestial passages which escape from this rather esoteric landscape. The title-track is as much beautiful as "Threads of Thought", in fact the floating movements of the layers are drawn in the same elegance. There is a very beautifully morphic melody forged on a superb circular movement of the sequencer to which is added a poignant line of bass. The whole approach coupled to the endorphin layers of Craig Padilla, and I am not far from the shivers that I had with the wonderful Until We Meet the Sky from Solar Fields. A very strong title and a jewel of emotionalism my friends which concludes a splendid album from the duet Givens/Padilla. Yes, the ambient music and the music of ambiences can be very beautiful! - Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences
Here are a couple of names that ought to be instantly recognizable to many familiar with ambient artists - Howard Givens and Craig Padilla. Both long-time veterans as electronic musicians and composers, Givens has more credits as producer, mixer, recording and mastering engineer than as a solo recording artist, while with Craig, the opposite is applicable. Together on 'Being of Light' these two blend their talents in such a way as to complement each others' skill set over four lengthy soundscapes. I don't believe this is their first collaboration as I have seen at least a couple of other releases they did together. What I really like about 'Being of Light' is that there is a musicality to the ambient that is intriguing without being overwhelming. That is to say the melodic content is supportive rather than upfront. There are lengthy, sustained synth pads that carry the ambient textures of these pieces, in which non-obtrusive guitar and grand piano accents occasionally, but effectively emerge. As stated on the label's one-sheet, "Weaving melodic phrases and rich textures through rhythmic structures and sequences, Givens and Padilla create deep interludes and expansive passages that exemplify the inspiration behind the project- to musically express the state of awareness that comes through the discovery of one's 'inner being' and pure essence. With 'Being of Light they emphasize a a visceral and enveloping experience, conceptually envisioning the album as a topology of energy where the individual is a single point of light, solitary and self-aware, yet melded into the sum of all light, complete in the totality of existence." The opening track, "Clearing the Mind" sets the stage for what is to come with a basically two-chord (there are actually a few more than two chords)piano theme set in a spacey atmosphere. It has dramatic impetus without being inordinant. (On some planet it might even make a good TV show theme.) "Threads of Thought" eases into its groove with lazy guitar, spacey drone and a repetitive bass pattern, followed by light percussion. This piece is a prime example of the trip being more about the journey than the destination. "A Contemplative State" is just that; over 30 minutes of textured drones and harmonics floating in the void. Concepts of time and space disappear here. Like the title of Sartre's most important philosophical work, this piece seems to be about "being and nothingness," where consciousness is left to it's own device to interpret reality, or what passes for it in one's existence. It is deep, intense and subtly changing, yet there is no distraction in its fluid stream. The subtle melodicism at the end of this piece reawakens the "dreamer" from her entranced state of contemplation. Lastly, there is the title track, "Being of Light." Here, one is assumed to have ascended into the realm of pure light. It is an airy and open dronescape twinkling with possibility, free of terrestrial matter, and ever spiraling upward and onward. What I think Givens and Padilla have created in 'Being of Light' is something unusual and exemplary- a programmed meditative state free of distraction yet not without personality and purpose. It is rare to hear and ambient album that can serve as either musical wallpaper or deep meditation without one taking away from the other. - Steve Mecca, Chain D.L.K.
While the synthesizer ceremony which begot Being of Light (68’26”) may have begun in a studio, it concludes well out into The Universe. Howard Givens & Craig Padilla have met again in a fellowship of the imagination, and aspire to be their best selves. Building on a musical relationship established on their previous release Life Flows Water (2015), they continue to mine the possibilities of Spacemusic as the perfect tool for exploring the possibilities of the world. As the robust dialogue unfolds in weightless flight, we find it hard to resist a work animated by such free-form randomness. Passing through the night, diffuse emanations rise against a much larger backdrop. As starlight chords shine in a shadowy midnight, waves of rounded electronic figures produce tranquil zones for inward contemplation. Within mesmerizing drones, this album’s momentous moments slip by in a beguiling ease. Yet, thanks to its recurring synth string chord motion, harmony and contrast interplay to great effect. Making a gentle path through the sense of hearing, Being of Light presents four sustained atmospheres for fathoming our own mental mysteries. Issuing cool notes as in a round silvery beam, well-warmed keyboards seem determined to conjure joy. Measure upon measure of slowly changing, undulating chords advance and recede along a musical arc of vague dimensions. The slowly breathing tones summon interesting variations in mood and space. Synthetic pads rush together to form a still subtle layer, as further in the atmosphere charges with a wispy, bewitching haze of restrained, poetic minimalism. Signaling forward motion, the quiet patter of slowly repeating bass notes support well-placed guitar and piano, hovering just within our grasp – offering much-needed points of reference along an expansive aural journey. Givens & Padilla shape the listening experience by stretching and compressing time through the arrangement of sound, its density and timbral elements. In cool constraint, they dwell in restful sonic colors – luxuriant in their stillness. Any work flooded with this level of emotion is worthy of our respect. The refuge of music offers (those open to it) safety from the prevailing contemporary spiritual vacancy. Being of Light brightens, and the darkness seems chased away – which should be quite helpful while charting the inner map of knowing. - Chuck van Zyl, Star's End

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