I have always been fascinated by vinyl records as a way to listen to music. The fact that a piece of plastic with grooves can spin against a needle and play sounds that are so pure and warm simply amazes me to this day. There is a great physical and spiritual connection to the music on a record; there’s even a certain scent to the vinyl and paperwork of an album that I enjoy. I have more memories of certain songs and albums because of this physical connection that I don’t get with digital media. Since much of my music is inspired by the electronic music records of the 1970’s and 80’s and is recorded using analog equipment, I’ve always felt that it would be a perfect fit for it to be released on vinyl.—Craig Padilla
Craig Padilla, who first surfaced on our radar on Strange Fish, returns to Fruits de Mer with Sonar, a sprawling two-album compilation of unreleased tracks transmitting from 1996 forward. Deeply rooted in the work laid down by earlier electro-ambient sound sculptors such as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, Sonar is a deeply immersive listen. Though entrenched in the ’70s and covering nearly 20 years, Sonar doesn’t feel time-stamped. If you listen intently enough, you might hear slight modulations that hint at that time span, but you’ll be hard-pressed to focus on it … and that’s not where your headspace needs to be anyway. And it’s certainly not where it will end up. This is the music of the orbs, planets that see their edges not drawn at their outer crusts but incorporating the surrounding atmosphere. If they lack an atmosphere then hard lines are blurred by velvety gaseous light, reflected and refracted, given voice by Padilla. The nature of the music and Padilla’s execution don’t make places to hang onto difficult, but rather pointless. All but two cuts break the 11 minute mark, the second platter’s cuts doubling that. Once you’re down–or up—in them, coasting and gliding is the order of the day and how Padilla makes his marks on a very cosmic map reflects that. Movement isn’t in one direction, or necessarily forward. You’re in a soft, and very warm, gravity free hamster-ball riding the celestial slipstream. No bumps, no collisions, no free fall. When direction, whether on the X, Y or Z axis, shifts you’ll be hard pressed to pinpoint exactly where your view was inverted. You’ll know after the fact, a slow dawning realization like a starry pinpoint that ebbs and flows with a replicating corona that grows and dissipates simultaneously. If all that sounds like it’s disorienting, or arbitrary, Sonar is most definitely not. Sonar, like any of the seminal artists and works Padilla obviously draws inspiration from, exact location and trail blazes aren’t mandatory, but they are subjective … and extremely malleable. The map isn’t being provided, but rather the blank paper, a vista-canvas. Sonar isn’t what you need to fill it in. It’s what allows you to go beyond the edges blissfully unaware without tumbling off into the clutches of gravity. Make it your own, and by all means get lost.