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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

PADILLA & ALLEN: Toward the Horizon (2019)

“A blend of Berlin School, electronic prog rock and ambient, Toward the Horizon has everything of pure EM”

1 Toward the Horizon 17:38 2 Distant Waves 4:58 3 Tidal Disruption 13:05 4 Beneath the Surface 13:23 5 Hidden 11:00 6 Liquid Heaven 4:35

(DDL/CD 64:40) (V.F.)

(Berlin School Ambient Music)

Craig Padilla is one of those artists who seems very comfortable in collaborations projects. His albums with Skip Murphy and Zero Ohms, not to mention Howard Givens and Paul Ellis, are witnesses of this spontaneous complicity. Recently, he lent his synths to the band The Fellowship of Imaginary Voyagers in an amazing album, Tenderness Avalanche, of progressive cosmic rock. TOWARD THE HORIZON touches on this vision while embracing the meditative approach of the native musician of Redding, California. This time, it's with a long-time acquaintance, the guitarist Marvin Allen, that he cooks another album where the Berlin School style soaks of a strong rock in the first half of the album leads by a powerful sequencer. Then after, we are entitled to an EM closer to the ambient territories unique to the signature of the American musician/synthesist. Mastered by Howard Givens and produced in the well-cut sound aesthetics of the Spotted Peccary label, TOWARD THE HORIZON is available in high quality 24-96 download format as well as in a manufactured CD presented in a beautiful 6 panels' digipack artwork.

Chords of an electric guitar wandering in the interstices of the universe adorn the opening of the title-track. These chords melt in contemplative laments and their resonances mate with fog jets. A clever mix of these chords and the floating solos of the guitar is knit between the synth, its iridescent lines and its thin lines of secret voices. This duel propels us into the world of Erik Wollo. A brook of harmonic sequences floats there, even allowing for subtle percussive effects to sparkle. Arrangements woven into a violin concerto with fog strings open the door of Toward the Horizon toward new horizons. The sequencer releases discrete steps that wave on a carpet of clouds and its prismic mists. The rhythmic structure evolves in this delightful ambient pattern that inspired the music of Klaus Schulze in his years of ether. The percussions that come dictate a step faster but always ambient even with an increased intensity of the flow of sequences. In fact, this ambient rhythm serves the cause of Marvin Allen and Craig Padilla who still struggle in this sonic panorama with exchanges between effects and solos which become more voracious and more incisive. The title-track of TOWARD THE HORIZON sets the tone for a solid album which travels between its ambient moments and lively phases of rhythms which are close to the good old Berlin School. In fact, it's an impeccable job that Craig Padilla performs at this level with a sequencer cast in the beautiful years of EM.

A short title that remains very interesting, Distant Waves offers another beautiful rhythmic structure of the analog years, but with a vision closer to Steve Roach with a sonic sky cracked of lines, both the synth and the guitar, which unravel the colors of a boreal night. Tidal Disruption is another fuming title! Its opening is fed by electronic effects not really in symbiosis with poetry, but rather cavernous noises assaulted by percussion rollings, like King Crimson in Epitaph. The sound effects and synth/guitar's multiline abound in a diversity focused on reverberation effects that flirt with the borders of a chthonian world. The movement of the sequencer that is popping out is lively and fluid with some perfumes of Phaedra. Heavy, the rhythm resonates as more fragile keys cling to give a more diabolical illusion to this lively structure that hosts riffs and chords lost from a guitar that perfectly complements the synth lushes. The metamorphosis for a animated heavy rock takes place around the 7th minute, plunging Tidal Disruption into a big electronic progressive rock torpedoed by riffs and aggressive solos of an expressive guitar. The percussions give a lively drive while the spasmodic sequences heckle en route to a final much more ethereal. A big piece that precedes the ambient phase of TOWARD THE HORIZON. Beneath the Surface offers a more lyrical vision with azure winds blown in two tones. Hidden is darker with guitar waves that are very Wollo on a delicate structure of ambient rhythm that would dance well with that in Structures from Silence, while Liquid Heaven finishes this first Padilla & Allen collaboration with an extension of Beneath the Surface. A very nice album!

Sylvain Lupari (March 17th, 2019) *****

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