Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Spotted Peccary

Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen: Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen: Weathering the Storm
Released: 17 February 2023

Craig Padilla and Marvin Allen are forecasters of a new and better tomorrow. Weathering the Storm (61:13) is their third collaboration of guitar and synth sonic statements – where again ambient space seems to become a physical location. Revealing itself across eight tracks this release conjures a range of aural atmospheres and complex climates. As ever changing layers of lush synthesized sounds and tight sequencer runs enlarge the listening space, tight guitar leads rise, fall and focus along a ribbon of electric melody. With each passing piece we become exposed to different intensities of mood and variations in tone. From bright motion-filled sonic landscapes and blissed-out plush textures, to overcast hollows of twilight realms, Padilla and Allen guide us safely through their well-crafted thought zones. Moving between the soothing, the unsettling, and the fiery, Weathering the Storm coaxes raindrops of melodic narrative from storm clouds of harmonic drama – playing out as a thousand beautiful dreams burn softly within. Whenever the maddening muffled beating of drums moves us passed the control of known forces, sputtering sparks of cycling note patterns restore us to the engine-room of the mind, and its shades of soft-hued introspection. Like wind walking quietly away from the tempest Weathering the Storm tells us that behind the clouds something incredible is waiting to be known. Made with human hands and hearts it is an album from two of the well-lived, well-loved, and well-played.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END 2 February 2022


Desensitized: Chaos in Premonition

Chaos in Premonition Desensitized

Desensitized: Chaos In Premonition
Released: 21 October 2022

Dean De Benedictis and Deborah Martin are artists who look inside themselves deeply to create work which aspires to inspire higher thoughts in others. As the duo Desensitized their Chaos in Premonition (63:20) succeeds in this enterprise, but may take some getting used to. Deepening the relationship first founded on Hemispherica Portalis (2020) their second collaboration finds De Benedictis & Martin back together building nine additional original transportive fantasies of strange proportions and primeval ambience. The all-embracing sense of beauty and fragility remains, yet somehow this succeeding effort comes across more tenebrous. While one track will challenge with its vast weirdness, others will shock with their perfection. These highly self-styled soundscapes feature mesmerizing figures, forms and color – plenty of wonderful welcome details to grant you entry. Restless meditations shape sound into textures – the atmosphere combining and dividing in fascinating ways. As low drones roll out beneath faint synth chords a sustaining mood arises – resolving soon in an ambient sigh. Time seems suspended. Even under a ticking clock or sacramental drums there is very little in the way to mark rhythm or measure tempo, no landmarks or signposts to indicate direction, or certain tonal center to steady us – leaving the listener to find only themselves within this swirling sonic sphere. For some the effect is surreal, stretching the boundaries of the world while zooming in on the details that matter most, while for others Chaos in Premonition will offer a beautifully unanswered question – a realization which refuses to provide a definitive interpretation, but which we are fully equipped to comprehend. Anyone struck by the intrigue found while driven along paths darker than they foresaw will enjoy this release. Chaos in Premonition is a statement album from musicians with something distinct to say. Yet their work is never finished, only on hold, waiting to take flight again in their next creative session.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 October 2022

David Helpling: In

In David Helpling

David Helpling: In
Released: 15 April 2022

The David Helpling double album In presents 13 tracks of new and beautifully original Contemporary Instrumental music. Bringing a wealth of thought-provoking complexity to these calming and pleasing works Helpling drifts between sonorous soundscapes and twilight worlds, to synthetic cinema sonnets and animated blooms of mood. Along this knowing arc of artistic vision, luminous synthesizer tones and chords, with electric guitar patterns and swells, sound out his musical voice. With clarity and simplicity being the dominating philosophy, Helpling builds out some pieces with guest artists. Nidhi Bhatmuley, Matthew Schoening, Miriam Stockley and Benjy Wertheimer lend aid in the portrayal of a realm lit by sun, moon and stars, made new by sound and spirit. While some songs feature tight arrangements of clean melodies and harmonies over determined beats, further along our journey In the focus shifts away from rhythm, phrasing and pacing, and more toward atmosphere and texture. Where these sustained moods offer repose and contemplation, amidst lightness and hope Helpling does explore the more refined and elegant timbres of his instruments. The sonic designs which emerge out this tonalist dream are in constant motion – heated by the urgent force of a timeless and elegant music. The cumulative effect is genuinely grand.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END21 April 2022

Jeff Greinke: Noctilucent

NoctilucentJeff Greinke

Jeff Greinke: Noctilucent
Released 18 March 2022

The wonder of Jeff Greinke is how his field of vision keeps expanding. An artist dreaming about transformation, about the world as it could be, his decades long discography commands a craft and capability unknown to most musicians. Each conducted in a methodical movement the nine pieces on Noctilucent (57:56) possess a lustrous tone, which registers in the cooler zones of the atmospheric weatherglass. From tender soundscapes for hollowed out souls, and tenuous, billowing phenomena, its stark electronic incantations are shadowed by a higher majesty felt in Greinke’s remarkable sonic architecture. There is even a fleet sequencer piece placed about midway through – where, taut and tricky, this album’s scope is widened and contrasts heightened. Turning shadows into recognizable Ambient Music, this release reveals its beauty slowly and intelligently. Vaporous and shadowy, completely in its own head, tracks burn best in the more measured moments. The softer this music falls, the longer we dwell upon it, and the deeper it sinks into the mind. Searching the range of consonance and dissonance, timbre and shade, ambience and aura, these gently resounding works thrive and wither each over a brief span – somehow elevated by our focussed attention. Throughout its run Noctilucent is neither completely lit nor entirely dark. It presents a subdued mystery, which it never intends to answer – that duty is left entirely to the listener.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END17 March 2022

Craig Padilla: Discovery of Meaning

Discovery of Meaning

Craig Padilla: Discovery of Meaning
Released: 18 February 2022

Each time Craig Padilla tends to the ingenious spark within, it grows stronger, setting afire the gifts of his imagination. The more dedicated he is to the process, the better the release, and the greater his contribution to the world. With an indefinable electric quality that sets his solo music apart for his many collaborations, Padilla’s Discovery of Meaning (71:38) confers with the spirit to reveal an inner essential light. This is a work difficult to abandon to the background. Sounds flare, then submerge us in shadow. Glowing with a private ineffable fire Padilla plays from the heart. When vibrant and variable textures give way to the tumble and spin of sequencer patterns, the continuous unraveling revels in a high energy excitement. It is here that a gift for melody is highlighted. A kind of narration, the direction of his soloing is always forward – into the future. From the sculpted and soft to the ambiguously toned, Discovery of Meaning at times uses negative space to delineate form – which puts the listener on intimate terms with the present moment. An ethereal human harmony gently undulates and hangs in the air – bringing a beautiful animation to an otherwise Electronic Music. After otherworldly female vocalise is heard sustaining in the soundspace, one of the voices speaks a spell of circularity – how the before and after may not always bracket the now. It feels so good to experience the sonic reality of this album. While most musical ventures cater to the largest, widest possible commercial market, this one aspires to reach, not wide, but deep – to the most essential part of the person. We can think about this music as much as we want, but while it is moving through the air we must feel it – as it reaches the ear, and so permeates the mind. It supposes that the mind is still big, that thoughts are still vast – and offers no option to think small. It is meant for the world, not as it is, but as it should be. After a proper listen to Discovery of Meaning, it will be hard not to hear its strange magic everywhere.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 February 2022

Hollan Holmes: Emerald Waters

Emerald WatersHollan Holmes

Hollan Holmes: Emerald Waters
14 January 2022

Hollan Holmes adds aural energy to the transferral of ideas. His album Emerald Waters (74:35) is an enthralling space of the imagination, and draws one to the play and shades of their own interior. Across 11 tracks the dance of tones up, down and through their scales maintains a unique buoyancy. In striding calibration the lines of synchronized sequencer pulse twist and turn, rise and fall, lighten and darken. Though it progresses firmly forward, then may suddenly change course, Emerald Waters is always heading assuredly toward its destination. In the kaleidoscopic electronic advance of lustrous chord banks harmony resolves in vibrant wisps of sound. Echoing runs ring out into a light filled space, but then the sonic setting shifts. In the headlong drive of spiraling, gliding notes the motor-motion follows a curving arc of restless invention. The spinning energized masses build larger cycles from smaller ones – further deepening the mysterious mood. Yet, while engine-room patterns may thicken and lighten, each charged, twinkling arrangement faithfully greets us brightly. The current Holmes is drifting with provides plenty of opportunities for exploration. Call it “dream fuel” or “head music”, his works are dependably listenable, and aspire to move the listening mind in the best way possible.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 January 2022

Chronotope Project: Gnosis

GnosisJeffrey Ericson Allen

Chronotope Project: Gnosis
Released: 20 August 2021

Chronotope Project has released yet another striking work. All warmth and rounded edges Gnosis (52:18) is Jeffrey Ericson Allen‘s ninth album (his fifth for Spotted Peccary) and truly honors his complexity as a creator. Achieving an impressive declarative power he realizes a splendid work somewhere between the sybaritism of New Age and the sonic explorations of Spacemusic. Utilizing the expressive potential of this style, the shape of each piece offers a slightly different arc upon which the listener travels. From darkly resonant to dreamy and light, fine textures sooth – while further in tenebrous timbres question. Ethereal synth strings thicken the atmosphere – unfolding easily in the dreamy brilliance of shifting chord progressions. Yet with motorik vigor and formal control the tightly patterned pulses that traverse Gnosis induce distances of thought. Building tension with a subtle heightening of tone and darkening of mood, these six tracks occasionally acknowledge desolation, but overall the sonic spirit remains quite optimistic. With an intense intimacy confessional scenes expand into quiet softness. Animated by the power of melody the well-crafted tones found throughout Gnosis devour immovable static durations. It is in the generation of these bewitching melodies that we get a sense of both moment and motion. As this music approaches the future, and whatever is just beyond the limits, listeners conclude their experience nourished by this musician’s vision and hope, in a beautiful echoing of the essence of the artist.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END25 August 2021

Howard Givens/Madhavi Devi/Craig Padilla: Precipice of a Dream

Precipice of a DreamGallagher Padilla Givens

Howard Givens / Madhavi Devi / Craig Padilla: Precipice of a Dream
Released: 2 April 2021

On Precipice of a Dream (45:12) sound seekers Howard Givens, Madhavi Devi and Craig Padilla traverse great distances of thought. Presenting the complete recording of their live set for SoundQuest Fest 2021 this release is an intriguing mix of harmonious designs and anomalous forms. Within the framework of seven sonic interludes this trio thinks as one, with the goal of building and exploring a range of sonic zones, then drifting into ever deeper hideaways. Their arrangements bring out feelings of vastness, possibility and potential in their listeners. Calming in an unexpected, otherworldly way Precipice of a Dream may indeed reveal inner realities. But its most obvious success is in the completeness in which its warming electrical current surrounds the listener – cycling steadily to the beat of the human heart. As electronic and technological as this music may seem, there is real humanity at its core. We can hear the musicians thinking through this album as patches of shadow and light ebb and flow about the sound space, and recurring notes tumble through the air in echoing precision. Doom drones provide an impression of infinite distance, while further in overlapping planes in parallel recession produce effects of power, freedom and open-ness. When tranquil sequencer notes trip from the gathering shadows, a rising and recurring energy ascends in echoing trails of tones – eventually to submerge in trembling turbid textures of sound. Freeing themselves in the cool clean waters of a live concert, raising a structure out of silence, in a style that is personal to each, yet creates something greater than each on their own, this outfit approaches the bold possibilities of Spacemusic. Their Precipice of a Dream exhibits the vitality of working together – in a soft cosmos of collaboration.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END8 July 2021

Jeff Greinke: Other Weather

Other WeatherJeff Greinke

Jeff Greinke: Other Weather
Released: 26 February 2021

Through music Jeff Greinke pursues an elusive sublimity. Summoning the gentle gravity of the Ambient Chamber Music style his Other Weather (59:06) is performed in a measured motion. Played on conventional ensemble instruments (piano, cello, viola, violin, French horn, clarinets, flutes, percussion) the 11 tracks combine a range of colors and textures, harmonies and melodies, moods and spirits. From shapeless Ambient zones to somewhere more incisive and emotionally rapt, his gently unfurling works bloom over time – each benefiting greatly from patient listening. Its emphasis on interiority offers, to those who will hear, personal truths. As soon as one clarifies, another is born. In becalmed poetic brevity each perfectly paced piece generates a unique idyll of uncommon sensitivity. Reverberant piano notes hover at the center of some compositions, while, further in, through Greinke’s elegant arrangements, his troupe together rises – playing slowly and dreaming freely. Inducing a heightened state of mind and heart the musical form resonates with the music’s message. So how then does Other Weather make such a remarkable impression? How does it achieve its rare quality? Perhaps because Greinke’s years of experience experimenting endows it with a reach denied to other musicians. The deeper spatial impressions Ambient Music affords and the furtiveness it encourages bestows a sedate equilibrium – known especially well to this artist. His beautiful music is for more than just taking refuge. It offers time to recalibrate your mental ordering of the Universe, and your place in it. The flowering of such thoughts will show the designs of Other Weather – which aims for the heart, by way of the mind.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 11 March 2021

Howard Givens & Craig Padilla: The Bodhi Mantra

The Bodhi Mantra

The Bodhi Mantra

Howard Givens & Craig Padilla: The Bodhi Mantra
Released: 26 June 2020

Howard Givens and Craig Padilla embrace a third collaboration with their The Bodhi Mantra (41’21”), a keenly spirited, heart-seizing work of celestial textures and higher atmospheres. At its core is the earnest emotion of two lovers of sound and space, which may stir our better angels if given a chance. Within their perfect electronic realm this duo conjure three thought zones through which to drift, contemplate possibilities, and imagine the better world this work wishes to call forth. Layers of warm notes slowly gather, build, sustain, and recede in the dreaming tones and lulling harmonies only the best Spacemusic may offer. Rounded tones of a sonorous timbre fluctuate in varying layers of charged synthesizer consonance. The underpinning chords brighten, climb and wane – then turn dark, swelling into a steadily sweeping soft mass. Out of the slow motion of cosmic ideas a roomy sequencer pattern emerges. Star chasing synths react. The accord of notes, so pleasing to the ear, answers to something permanent in our way of being. The Universe is made up mostly of space, how nice to find here some form. The Bodhi Mantra provides conditions in which to consider ideas as deep as the prospect of meaning in a fathomless void, or as vague as finding the infinite moment that this music proposes. What is life but to dream and do? Givens and Padilla summon the creative nerve, amid the gloom of dusk, to venture a passage through to dawn. The listener should use the light of this quiet glow to see better all the good that is around them, as well as the path ahead, and to peace.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END30 July 2020