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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

CRAIG PADILLA: Beyond the Portal (2009)

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

Beyond the Portal is an album of a sound richness which borrows the paths of American pioneers such as Steve Roach and Michael Stearns

1 Realm of the Spirit (17:48)

a Perspective of Disappearance 7:02

b Realm of the Spirit 10:46

2 Akasha (15:27)

Oceans of the Heavens 15:27

3 Beyond the Portal (32:27)

a One Moment Beyond 11:07

b Active Side of Infinity 8:22

c Beyond the Portal 12:58

(DDL 65:43) (V.F.)

(Ambient Music)

Here is a very good album of morphic music. An opus of great nocturnal tranquility that can be enjoyed with all the cosmic sublimity that comes out of each bit. First collaboration between Craig Padilla, Richard Roberts (Zero Ohms) and Skip Murphy, BEYOND THE PORTAL breathes a strange tranquility where the mores of a hybrid world, aquatic as cosmic, vibrate in our dumbfounded ears.

Divided into 3 parts, the album opens with a hot wind sweeping the waves of a silent sea. A soft mellotron filters choirs which seem devoid of malice, in an abyssal world that piano notes manage to make nostalgic. Realm of the Spirit is a call for calm, for serenity with its gentle breaths that transport us beyond the borders of an abstract world. A world of water and stars where the imagination castigates our cerebral sedentarism with a surprisingly rich sound decoration for a title with a total absence of movement, the energy coming from within. Realm of the Spirit is of an incredible sensitivity with the synth-winds and the flutes which transport us in a tribal world of an unknown origin with subtle sequenced waves which get extinguished under a soft shimmering synth pad. Akasha (Oceans of the Heavens) is worthy of its title. The movement begins with fine hopping sequences, calling for the clicking of the waves of an oceanic universe. An exquisite title with passages that are just as much and that remind me of the musical poetry of Michael Stearns on the formidable M'Ocean (an album to own). By closing our eyes, and without great imaginative efforts, we see darkness fall back on the water with the moon, and the secrets of an underwater world untouched by excavations and human traces, that she protects as a nightlight. A superb piece with a synth with slow oscillations and acute recriminations which lull, in a universe that even the imagination has not yet profaned, on a light striking crescendo.

Soft incantations of lonely mermaids spawn amid the dark naval reverberations of Beyond the Portal. A long title which makes a strange connection between the oceanic abyss and a cosmos as dark as the bottom of the oceans. Slowly the movement develops like a prayer without borders at the dawn of the hybrid world. The synth lines intertwine in an abstract fusion, as if the unreal could be expressed at the ends of the flutes and synthesized tunes. A little more active, Side of Infinity brings the sequenced beginnings. Crystallized passages that wind around heavy dark strata with dramatic arrangements. A bit as if water and space merged in a strange waltz with slow movements of imperfect twists. The movement comes alive through waves of a little blurry synths to guide us towards the title-track and its soft sequence drumming like in Steve Roach's universe. A movement with a docile crescendo which wriggles under the echoes of an evolving sound universe which will not become more explosive in order to maintain its passive fragility.

Lovers of ambient, floating and relaxation music, BEYOND THE PORTAL is an essential album!

Sylvain Lupari (April 4th, 2009) *****

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