CRAIG PADILLA: Heaven Condensed (2016)
“Great ambient moods plus great ambient beats only give the la creme de la creme of Padilla's repertoire”
A new album from Craig Padilla is always an event in the circles of EM. Playing marvelously on the esoteric borders of the ambient form of music and the delicate rhythms of the Berlin and of the Pacific School, the American synth magician likes to destabilize his public, who is always faithful to him, by flirting between these poles with the vision of an old wise person who knows all the cogs. Structured around 4 tracks with parallel identities which play marvelously on the borders of quiet music and the Berlin School model, HEAVEN CONDENSED transports us near a universe rich in sounds and in ambient rhythms where Craig Padilla, like a painter of tones, invents colors which challenge the imagination. It's the pinnacle of the Pacific School! You know these layers of voices and of cosmic breezes which escape from the Milky Way? And these sequences which glitter such as the reflections of a kaleidoscope dancing on a sea enlightened by the red moon? It's behind this pallet of tones and ambiences that wraps us with a fascinating anesthetic embrace that HEAVEN CONDENSED is taming the thousand apprehensions of those who avoid the ambient music. Welcome to Craig Padilla's nights of thousand magnetisms.
A long woosh coming from Orion caresses our ears already won by the sweet very airy approaches of Craig Padilla. Corridors of prisms crumble down their particles while perfumed floating layers of absent voices and some slow dying pulsations provide the astral serenity of the moment. A small ringing coming from a strange tone pierces this dense cloud of contrasts at around the 2nd minute of Stonington Moon. Answering to its echo, it attracts our sense of hearing which concentrates now on these organic pulsations which will forge the very Berlin School approach of Stonington Moon. The rhythm is as jerky as these furtive steps which advance gropingly in twilights decorated of translucent particles. It's like these long hypnotic movements of the analog years with a mixture of sequences, pulsations and percussions which marks a slightly jerky structure. A very electronic structure rich in tones and in nuances of sounds, and of which the ambiences remain always very soaked with this touch of Pacific School, which is proud of its opaque wall filled by tones of a parallel universe and by synth layers to fathomless colors. The title-track entails us into the very ambient universe of the album where, like a painter of tones, Craig Padilla decorates his intro of long passive lines to the colors of serenity. The start is very in the astral kind with lines of synth, waves of tones, which intertwine themselves slowly and waltz in oblivion. Lost chords are eventually ringing a little around the 10th minute, separating so the celestial bodies of HEAVEN CONDENSED which makes heavier its senses, and ours, with an immensely ambient phase which is filled of woosh and of these small ringings which sneak between buzzing lines. Tears of synth squeak with abundance, smothering the ambient melody of the ringings which seek to structure a figure of rhythm which will emerge discreetly towards the finale. That does very cosmic. But it's a bit too long! Two long structures and two short structures, HEAVEN CONDENSED is divided by the same orientations. Therefore Across the Light is molded on the Berliner model of Stonington Moon but with a structure of rhythm which is fed by more crystal-clear elements and which is also more energetic. One would say a perpetual upward promenade with a sequence as much low than a breath of baritone which skips like a limping nomad. A cloud of sequences sparkles all over the movement which is accompanied by beautiful electronic effects, by a seraphic choir and by these breaths of synth which seem to come from celestial bodies. I would have give the 10 minutes of too much of the title track here because the music abounds of rage in its last miles. So is built Across the Light, so is similar the very long Heavenly Sails to the ambiospherical structure of the title-track. Except that here is nesting a great structure of ambient rhythm which reminds me enormously the universe of Western Spaces from Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny, Tom Brennanand Richard Burmer or still that of Alpha Wave Movement and even the magic of the cosmic nights of Michael Stearns. It's a very long hypnotic piece of EM with a slow and long structure of ambient and of circular rhythm. A structure which goes and comes, with brief moments which are more serene. The sound image which occurs me is the one of a quiet walk on a horseback who drinks in a magic oasis and each of its gulp makes moan the scarlet wavelets beneath a sky painted of the thousand reflections from some auroras borealis. This is very beautiful. We hear the stars to sparkle as we can hear the emptiness of the furrows that their celestial bodies create while there are flying. My ears still buzz, even if it's a quiet track. Showing of this immense wealth which captivates our sense of hearing as soon as the first seconds of Stonington Moon begin the nice crossing of HEAVEN CONDENSED.
Sylvain Lupari (February 13th, 2016) *****
Available at Spotted Peccary Music