Craig Padilla – Below The Mountain

The Spotted Peccary label has been consistently putting out great ambient, space and synth music albums. Their latest release, Below The Mountain, by Craig Padilla, is no exception.

We’ve reviewed a couple of other albums by Padilla, The Light In The Shadow & Genesis. While his last two releases had more of an ambient or space music feel, Below The Mountain shows Padilla’s classic synth music side.

Fans of the Berlin School electronic music of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream and of the classic seventies synth music of Michael Stearns and Steve Roach will find plenty to enjoy here.

The tracks on Below the Mountain explore various combinations of drones and modular-style sequences. Some, like Current and Wandering Though, have more of a West coast space music feel. Other tracks, like Woven Planet and Endless Road, have a more Berlin School feel.

Woven Planet is one of the highlights of the album. It starts with a sequenced bass that’s treated with a analog tape-style sync’d echo. Over this, Padilla layers muted synth string melodies that float across the stereo soundstage. The track builds as Padilla evolves the bass sequence and modulates the bass synth filter, bringing focus on the bassline and then fading it back down. A second sequence joins the first, and they interlock and dance with their echoed reflections. The track brought Michael Hoenig’s Departure from the Northern Wasteland to mind.

Another highlight is Endless Road, which is reminiscent of Thief-era Tangerine Dream. A simple bass sequence carries the track along, while other synth and percussive sequences fade in and out. The result is an entrancing, constantly shifting collage of sound.

Craig Padilla’s Below The Mountain is a welcome journey through classic synth music styles that proves that they still offer a lot of room for exploration and creativity.

Tracks:

  • Currents (10:01)
  • Woven Planet (4:51)
  • Wandering Thought (5:42)
  • Endless Road (4:43)
  • Windspell (18:37)
  • First Light (7:30)
  • Alturas (22:37)

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