Path Of Least Resistance

Craig Padilla / Zero Ohms

Path Of Least Resistance


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About Path Of Least Resistance


1   Leaving This Shadow Of Heaven

2   The Everything That Is No Thing

3   Hollow Dreams Of Worlds Passed

4   Realizing The Infinite

5   Frequencies [Of Life]

6   The One

7   Path of Least Resistance

Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms both have successful independent careers as ambient musicians, but this CD marks their first collaboration… and the result is very nice.

Path of Least Resistance combines melodic flute and synth melodies with soaring, pulsing, sweeping soundcapes for a mesmerizing sonic experience. This CD has been worked, reworked, polished and primed by the artists and the care in it’s creation shines through! Path of Least Resistance will be one for every space music and ambient aficionado’s CD collection.


This album is a collaboration between Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms in which both explore the world of imaginative electronic music. It is a fascinating symphony performed with synthesizers, whose seven pieces include widely different styles, though mostly portraying Ambient and Space Music. The most impressive piece in the album is, in my opinion, ‘The everything that is no thing’, of a majestic air and a great beauty. This is no doubt a wonderful album, accompanied by a magnificient cover.

- Edgar Kolger, Amazing Sounds

I guess this collaboration shouldn’t surprise me too much. Though I know Craig Padilla mostly for his melodic and sequencer-based space music, he also has done excellent floating ambient albums like Temporal Suspension and the particularly stark and minimal Vostok. Of course, Zero Ohms is no stranger to ambience and drones.

‘Leaving This Shadow of Heaven’ starts with undulating reverberations that set the tone early – no sequencing, and delicate melodies drenched with atmosphere. This is deep space music, like Jonn Serrie but a tad more sparse and expansive. The pure space sounds also remind me of Michael Stearns’ classic Planetary Unfolding. A little bit of sequencing figures here and there, for example on the slow and steady ‘The Everything That is No Thing’. The pulsing is a bit faster on ‘The One’, while flutes add an airy touch to the Berlin School musical style. Nevertheless, this cd is primarily about floating through space and expanding the mind. The title track blends ambient, Native American, and new age textures together in a relaxing closing number.

Subtleties throughout reward attentive and repeat listening.

- Phil Derby, Electroambient Space

Add to the short list of classic Spacemusic albums exploring the relationship between electronic and acoustic music Path of Least Resistance (61'51’) by Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms. For this project, Padilla has refined his dense and energetic style nearer to the level of the sleek and serene flute playing of Zero Ohms. Together, the duo explores areas they may not have ventured into on their own. Their music, comprised of dreamy interludes and tonal narratives, is spacious and uncluttered. Both minimal and expansive, the seven tracks on Path of Least Resistance float across and into each other in an infinite, gentle mix - to which Zero Ohms introduces the soft whisper of flutes while Padilla provides a foundation of sustained synthesized notes, chords, and progressions. The album is beautiful, full of commanding synth-borne melodies, warming flute trills and the echo of otherworldly rituals throughout. At times tranquil, somnolent ambient meditation, while elsewhere a pulsing cybernetic entity, the Craig Padilla/Zero Ohms collaboration is locating new paths and branches of sonic exploration.

- Chuck van Zyl, Star's End

In the not-so-distant future, when interstellar travel is common, ‘Path of Least Resistance’ by Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms will undoubtedly be the in-flight music on every expedition. For those of us sadly stuck in the merely jet-powered present, this CD keenly describes in music what such a trip might be like, from exhilaration to anticipation. Moving easily between zero-g spacey drifts and sequencer-tinged ramjet drivers fueled by inspiration from Jarre and Tangerine Dream, ‘Path’ is a journey worth taking often.

It begins with the three-part suite ‘Leaving This Shadow of Heaven,’ easing the listener into the journey. For 10 minutes lush pads ripple and flow around Ohms’ breathy wind-synth work. Sequencer trills dot the background like the glimmer of distant stars. The whole piece builds toward a sense of anticipation, moves through the rush of a graceful takeoff, and then folds back into a hushed sense of floating in a warm, deep void.

Then it’s time to fire the retro rockets. ‘The Everything That Is No Thing’ pays superb tribute to early electronic pioneers. It owes more than a bit to Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’ and late-70s Tangerine Dream. (’Sorcerer,’ anyone?) The synth-twangy bassline and analog-style twiddles bring nostalgic glory to the trip. Truly a highlight of the CD.

As an aside, the titles on this CD are magnificent. Seems a silly thing to point out, but they’re simply poetic. And ‘Hollow Dreams of Worlds Passed’ is the best of them. The track itself has a certain poesy as well—a quietly drifting lyricism bolstered by bass drones that swell, rumble and fade. It’s the feel of cutting the engines and easing into orbit around some distant, vapor-clouded planet.

From there the drift goes on. ‘Realizing the Infinite’ is a swirl of synth that spreads out to sculpt a vision of unfathomable distances. ‘Frequencies of Life’ is another multi-part suite. It begins with deep bass drones that give way to a burbling, hypnotic electronic agenda as readings are taken and the probes descend. Dark spreads of synth pads convey a feeling of searching for something...anything. And then, out of the robotic twiddle and drone the tone softens and suddenly, the soft chirping of birds. We’ve found a habitable place. In fact, this segment of the suite is titled ‘Just Like Home.’ The journey is coming to a close. Calm warmth infuses the music, and a feeling of hope emerges. This melds into the energetic sequencer work of ‘The One’ with Ohms’ flute coming in to sing a vivid description of the new landscape.

The title track, which closes the CD, features Ohms’ gorgeous Native American flute over quiet drums and Padilla’s easy electronic washes. It’s the sense of sitting on a high hill on some far-off world, watching a pair of reddish suns lower into a multicolored sea. It is a deep breath of new air, and a sleep full of lush dreams beneath alien stars.

For the earthbound, ‘Path of Least Resistance’ is a ticket to the journey of a lifetime. This a full, richly realized bit of spacemusic that warrants many, many repeat plays. Kudos to Padilla and Ohms for creating such a magnificent voyage.

- Hypnagogue

As more artists in the ambient and electronic music genres collaborate, one should not be surprised at the pairings that surface, although combining the ethereal electro-acoustic ambience of Zero Ohms (a.k.a. Richard Roberts) with the neo-Berlin EM and synthesizers of Craig Padilla did seem like a risky venture to me. However, after thoroughly digesting Path Of Least Resistance (on Lotuspike Records), I am once again delighted at how wrong my preconceptions can be. Featuring the wind-synth and assorted flutes of Roberts and Padilla’s arsenal of synths, samplers, and sequencers, this is a surprisingly complex and diverse recording, although much of the album is anchored in the ‘classic’ spacemusic theater, consisting of fluid textures which gently soar with both subtlety and grandeur.

As such, one could draw parallels to previous releases from artists such as Michael Stearns, Kevin Braheny, or even Geodesium and Jonn Serrie. However, upon close analysis of the music itself, while there are traces of those other musicians here and there, Path Of Least Resistance is a relatively unique, if not near singular, take on composing and performing music that reflects ‘slipping the bonds of Earth’ and cruising out amongst the stars and galaxies. Variety from track to track, or even within individual cuts, doesn’t detract from the overall flow of the album, although some transitions present the listener with shifts in mood, to be sure.

‘Leaving This Shadow Of Heaven’ (great title, that!) opens with long droning washes and lush synth chords, but morphs into a dramatic retro EM/spacemusic piece with sparkling circular keyboards and crescendos that perfectly capture the essence of the track’s intent. Sampled electric guitar may take things slightly over the top near the end, but it’s appropriate enough since it underscores and boldfaces the song’s title. ‘The Everything That Is No Thing’ (yet another excellent choice of words) also begins in an ambient vein with haunting subtle swirling wind-synths that slowly pan from left to right and back again, holding an unmistakable bell-like resonance. Eventually, Padilla’s neo-Berlin synths and sequencers, carrying strong echoes of Tangerine Dream and similar artists, are folded into the mix and the resulting alchemy represents a spot-on symbiosis of the disparate elements. Electronic pulses, mournful retro synth-horns, and buzzing textures are buoyed by the soft under-cushion of Roberts’ bedrock ambient soundscape.

The most ambitious track is ‘Frequencies (of Life)’ which opens with the sound of the original Star Trek transporter beam (the sound effect surfaces sporadically throughout the track). Over the course of the song’s nearly eleven minute duration, there are mysterious drifting synth washes, reverberating rumbling drone-like tones, laser-zapping flashes of SF-type synthesizers, rapid-fire sequences that sound like Robbie the Robot’s memory can terribly awry, and in the final stretch, graceful and serene wind-synth which floats over an undercurrent of billowing keyboards and amidst sampled bird calls. This track, by the way, while not having distinct time cues, is divided into three sections, subtitled ‘Dawning Realization’, ‘Frequencies Received’, and ‘Just Like Home’.

Closing out the CD are the tracks ‘The One’ which is another healthy dose of Padilla’s excellent take on retro-Teutonic EM (blended with some nice flute work by Roberts which pokes its head through now and then) and the title song which ends the recording with an assortment of Roberts’ flutes (perhaps the best playing he’s ever done on CD, in fact), deeply echoed and wafting gently in mid-air, later joined by subtle sampled guitar and various hand percussion. The cut reminded me of Stephen Bacchus’ over-looked gem of a CD, Pangaea, in how it evokes images that are peaceful yet primeval with the added spice of world music flavors.

Path Of Least Resistance is one of those cds which offer something for nearly everyone: Germanic/retro EM goodness, classic drifting spacemusic, haunting quasi-ambient tones and warm drones, serene flutes and wind-synths for those seeking calm and serene soundscapes, and that last touch of world beat for those whose view of ambient music is global in nature. Expertly recorded and mixed (I have read that the final tweaking of the album took a lot of time and it shows in the attention to detail), the CD displays both of the artists’ strengths while also pointing out how well they fit together as a ‘whole.’ It earns a highly recommended from me as an example of ambient music which exemplifies the concept of ‘cohesive diversity’ in masterful fashion.

- Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire

Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms is the meeting of a synthesist who can play so much finesse as of power and a flutist of national fame who unite their visions for the pleasure of sounds, senses and of our ears. And that begins with a fine and somber humming which opens "Leaving this Shadow of Heaven", a little as a forsaken cello which caresses the strings of its solitude. Tears, crystalline cries spring out of this enigmatic union while the delicate and very dreamlike synth of Craig Padilla follows this astral procession built on those continuous hummings. Seraphic choirs try to pierce this opaque fog, bringing a more ethereal sound vision to this long track which will bring us to the borders of the very dark and very ambiospherical universe of “Path of Least Resistance”. The magic, the very delicate dexterity of Padilla spreads its charms with solos which contort and sing such as violins without souls, counterbalancing the enormous weight of solitude, of abyssal vastness which is the finale of "Leaving this Shadow of Heaven". Its ashes extend on the borders of "The Everything that is no Thing", where, of this silence with a spatial coolness, escape the first sequenced pulsations of Craig Padilla. They resound and shape a heavy pulsatory rhythm. An ambient rhythm however, so much the atmospheres and the blackness are dense, which goes up and comes down in a motionless movement decorated with undulatory strata, with cosmic sound effects and with beautiful twisted solos. Fluty solos which become soft evanescent harmonies while the sequences click like clogs on an astral pavement, so drawing a kind of staircase which leads us towards the nothingness of "Hollow Dreams of Worlds Passed". The breaths, I would say even the mooings, of the cosmos are intimidating. Heavy, hollow and somber, they channel a negative energy that even the galactic choir of sirens, as so soft and dreamlike it is, does not succeed to calm. But there is fine strands, breezes of the synth which nuance the influence of the darkness which increases all the same with continual hummings. Hummings which move into crystalline waves on "Realizing the Infinite", an intense and ambient title where the lines of synth take forms of spectral songs."Frequencies (of Life)" bears proudly its ambiospherical moments with interstellar chirping which shine in a fusion of dark waves and synth lines of a little more translucent. Lines which throw rays of light in a very dark universe. It's even very cosmic, a little bit without life, with heavy hummings which push knock down the chirpings of the synth and the metallic elytrons which spin and forge an incomplete rhythm. A little as scatterbrained fires in captivity. A structure of rhythm, interspersed by heavy ambiences, which goes and comes in the black passivity of these cosmic vibrations which loops its arhyrmic odyssey in the charms of its intro. On a movement of a sequencer with keys jumping of energy, "The One" pounds on the undulatory curves of the cosmic spirals. It's a good Berlin School, a big cosmic rock tinted with a very sibylline approach which goes on a heavy and resonant rhythm and which makes sputter its keys in a mesmerizing cosmic pattern. The title-track is as much mesmerizing as improbable. To say the least, when we look from whom it comes. It's a superb ambient ballad with a very melodious approach tied to a kind of Tablas percussions which drum a delicate ambient rhythm decorated with a charming flute. It's beautiful, soft and rather moving. It's between the New Age, Berlin School and a very meditative music.
Heavy with threatening drones but strangely beautiful, slow and rhythmical, mysterious and harmonious; “Path of Least Resistance” is a strong album which navigates between the meanders of an ambient music, fed by the mysteries of the cosmos, and the ambient rhythms of a rather enigmatic Berlin School. If at times there are lengths, in particular with the opening track, “Path of Least Resistance” blows up in our faces from its 13th minute. Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms merge their styles with their fanciful vision where everything fits together in order to plunge the listener into a rather dark but somehow harmonious heterogeneous universe. A beautiful album where the fans of EM, both Berlin School and ambient, are going to savor by going from surprise to surprise. The signature of something good!

- Sylvain Lupari, Synth & Sequences

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