craig padilla

Those with fairly good memories may well recall us going gaga at the appearance in our gaff of the first five volumes of the strange fish sub imprint. In short a micro space dedicated to sounds, artists and styles somewhat falling outside the usual sonic specifics of fruits de mer and its sister label regal crabomophone. This hulking introduction to the label was set across twelve sides of heavy duty vinyl with an additional CD’s worth of cosmic dream logika specially gathered for those who bought the entire collection as one and featured 29 artists / bands / sound sculpturers. It was a massive statement from the label shifting them out of their aural comfort zone, yet simultaneously extending their sound spectrum beyond the strict confines of psych, folk, progressive and krautrock to explore the sonic sub strata existing between the gaps. One of the undoubted highlights of the collection was the whole side of volume one which was devoted to two tracks from Craig Padilla. A year on and Mr Padilla is afforded the luxury of having 4 sides of wax on which to work on courtesy of strange fish‘s 6th volume. Upon them a near two hour odyssey in the shape of a collection carefully drawn from Mr Padilla’s vast back catalogue, a body of work reflecting nearly two decades of sonic exploration, not merely slapped together but seamlessly threaded into one massive hyper gliding spacewalk. Entitled ’Sonar’, Padilla takes you on a cosmic trip for a pure electronic lunar ride both mesmerising and meditative. Utilising old school analogue synths, ’Sonar’ provides a back to future’s past exploring and paying homage to the kosmiche sounds of electronicas golden age – the 70’s – in short pure brain food. Perfect for those purists among you who these days are still attracted like moths to light to new school labels like bureau b and black sweat. Seven headphonic delights and astral voyages sit within, Padilla’s navigatory compass pointing towards the woozier outer spheres of cosmic rocks vast nebula principally triangulated by three main reference markers those being – the panoramic / filmic / soundtrack detailing of Vangelis, the pop minded melodically astute artistry of Jean Michel Jarre and the floaty unworldly dream dipped cerebral soundscapes of Tangerine Dream. Previously visited upon when it appeared as a taster on the aforementioned Mayfish sampler set, ’challenge deep’ is an exploratory cruise controlled voyager piloted by Vangelis, curvaceously tempered in bliss kissed oceanic opines and caressed in spaceous ambient expanses liberally festooned in starry garlands and mellowed in milky way mosaics. Elsewhere Padilla’s awareness of space, texture and mood is brought to the fore on the divinely mellowed and sleepy headed pulsar that is ‘cosmic dawn’ – here sumptuously bedded upon a murmuring motorik footing and shimmered in what can only be described as a deeply alluring aquatic dream coat. ’behind the lightning’ is made of darker stuff, here the mood drops a degree or two, still touched and slipstreamed in those now trademark amorphous super structures, there’s a sense of melancholic loss permeating and a hollowing futility that very much tunes into the sonic arteries of John Carpenter and the kind of bleak futurism of ‘the terminator’ and to which sounds not unlike oblique distress transmissions from a long since dead lunar outpost. All said the main attraction comes with the brace of epic cuts found lurking on sides three and four – where sit the 2 hugely expansive 20 minute plus solar symphonies – ‘Sonar’ and ‘awaken to the dream’. the former a wonderfully lushly toned and playful orbital odyssey clipped in the kind of funky after burns and possessed of the kind of lights lowered lounge-y sophisticat splendour that seductively plays tag with 90’s aural alchemists Banco de Gaia and yet simultaneously head dives into the kind of terrains still these days ventured upon by the likes of electro kraut pioneer Dieter Moebius. It is however ‘awaken to a dream’ that provides the set with its defining centrepiece, a hulking galactic day dream mirage rippling in cavernous delights and ice sculptured mosaics, a star lit harmony of the spheres softly daubed in spectral swathes and journeying towards the airless voids of the beyond, elegant, elegiac and utterly captivating.

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