Craig Padilla, the acclaimed electronic music veteran, is back and better than ever with Below The Mountain, a new deep-space analog synth sequencer work. Inspired by the landscape and surroundings of Mt. Shasta near his home in Northern California, Padilla masterfully guides the listener through sweeping sonic vistas of electronic soundscapes, and across a boundless rolling terrain of pulsing sequencer motifs. Below the Mountain is a textural electronic evolutionary sound journey that delivers a contemplative, ambient, deep listening music experience in the tradition of Tangerine Dream, Steve Roach, and early Klaus Schulze.
listen 2. Woven Planet
3. Wandering Thought
listen 4. Endless Road
listen 5. Windspell
listen 6. First Light
listen 7. Alturas
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Reviews of Below the Mountain:
Review of Below The Mountain from Paul Hightower, Expos? Magazine (issue 36)
Practitioners of electronic or space music can often times be seen as little more than technicians with the knowledge and ability to produce interesting sounds from arcane and complex synthesizers and programmed analog instruments. In the hands of a skilled practitioner like Craig Padilla, however, what is science to some becomes art. Padilla is well schooled in classic Berlin-style EM a la Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, as seen on tracks "Woven Planet" and "Endless Road." With each he uses sequenced synth lines, typically at lower frequencies, to be the foundation over which other melodies and elements are painted. An over-arching mood is conjured up, often dreamy and sometimes brooding, but always clear and focused. A more ambient track is explored on pieces like "Wandering Thought" and "First Light" that will appeal to fans of Jon Jenkins and Steve Roach. The two big pieces "Windspell" and "Alturas" are both superb. On the former I'm reminded of Vangelis' 70s work with its more natural use of percussion and emphasis on melody while on the latter there's a more modern EM style being pursued, similar to other Spotted PEccary artists like Paul Ellis, though again Schulze's influence is also felt. Padilla also has a good feel for long form pieces, being sure not to disturb the overall mood while allowing room to explore variations in texture and timbre. On this album, Padilla reminds us that there is limitless potential for this sort of music, much like the vastness of space itself.
Review of Below The Mountain from Darren Bergstein, e/i Magazine, installment 24
And now for something completely (relatively speaking) different. Craig Padilla?s name deserves more than just a passing nod amongst post-Berlin school aficionados. He?s released some superb space music and sequencer-driven works over the years, both solo and in collaboration with fellow sonic auteur Skip Murphy, and, more importantly, swept aside the usual Teutonic affectations in an effort to spin off from those hoary, 35-plus year old battleaxes. Yes, the vocabulary?s recognizable, but the syntax has been tweaked: the music on Below the Mountain (the inspiration of which comes again from landscape, specifically Padilla?s home around Mt. Shasta in Northern California) suggests rugged earthly embraces except that its palette harkens more towards the quantum mechanics of interstellar pioneers Tangerine Dream and Schulze. All irrelevant anyway?beguiling moments await within. Immediately appealing and subtly clever, the opening ?Current? benefits from a little elfin countenance of a synth figure that invigorates the ever-shifting expanses made by well-oiled, well-tendered yet soft machines. Like a boomerang, ?Woven Planet? tugs at your memory cards as it recalls the classic moments of TD?s Ricochet, gurgling sequencers rippling under bulging updrafts of graysky electronics. Padilla is able to achieve a near perfect balance of sci-fi futurism and landscape veneer: the ten minutes of ?Windspell? see a return to slow tempo sequencer and chugging, Exit-like cymbal acrobatics as Padilla folds his mosaic of rhythms into thick clouds of majestic, undulating chords, 70s d?j? vu all over again but brushed over with 00s gloss. The closing 22-plus minutes of ?Alturas? is the real barnstormer, however, Padilla coaxing various skeins of star-twinkle, metallic dewdrops, blossoming backdrift, and, ultimately, a corkscrewing, hypnotizing sequencer pattern whose complex tangles burrow right into your cochlea. Padilla?s scored some major hits in the past, but this particular slice of systems music?s a real humdinger; it simultaneously fades back and radiates.
Review of Below The Mountain from Bert Strolenberg, Sonic Immersion
"Below the Mountain" is a beautiful ambient and deep space offering by skilled electronic musician Craig Padilla.
Created on analogue synthesizers for the most biggest part, the concept album was inspired by the environments surrounding Mt. Shasta. This has led to seven pieces of carefully moulded in-depth ambient music with a highly contemplative, cinematic impact.
Music wise, it continues along the road Craig has been investigating on his previous releases on Spotted Peccary, but also Steve Roach and the classic Berliner School of music.
"Currents" sets off with beautiful woven textures and vintage sounds and effects, followed by some great sequencing and warm expanding textures in Roach-style in "Woven Planet".
The warm soundings of "Wandering Thought" continue in a more pastoral manner, before we move into he engaging realms and effects of "Endless Road".
The 18-minute track "Windspell" is dedicated to the late Michael Garrison (Windspell was actually the name of Michael?s record label), so it won?t be a surprise this piece contains some of Garrison?s typical musical trademarks mingled with Craig expanding, spacious sonics. "First Light" is a lush ambient interlude, in which warm blankets of textures and nice sequencing melt.
The 22-minute closing track "Alturas" features the beautiful vocals of Craig?s wife Brooke, which nicely melt with the sounds of vintage electronics and sequencing. Things start in a rather melancholic manner, but soon take off for a great cinematic voyage.
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