Reviews 01-28-2001


Music Reviews 


Folding Space and 
Melting Galaxies

by Craig Padilla

Visit Space for Music's website

Craig Padilla is one of the USA's leading practitioners of Berlin school e-music.  he is also a very prolific creator with 15 CD's in 13 years.  He embraced the mp3 D.A.M.CD concept and stayed with that resource until he achieved some major recording and distribution contracts.

Folding Space and Melting Galaxies is his first CD on Tony Gerber's SpaceForMusic label.  (That label is very hot right now.  Tony has it clicking like Mike Griffin's Hypnos label.) 

This is some of the best pure Berlin school music of the new millennium.  While it is certain that Craig has listened to - and learned from - the analog masters of the 1970's, it is just as certain that he has developed his own niche in the e-music community.

The depth of these sequences is matched only by the depth of these atmospheres.  This disc has only two long-form (32'13" and 27'55") compositions that sound exactly like their titles ("Folding Spaces" and "Melting Galaxies").

Craig has always been an expert at creating expressive soundscapes.  Free from the limits of the D.A.M. format, he has found new artistic success with these delightful sci-fi spacescapes.

Craig also has a CD due in March on Spotted PeccaryVostok is a one-hour minimalist extravaganza, reviewed on these pages also.  Deep listeners and e-music everywhere are delighted that Craig's perseverance is paying off big.

(Personally, I am thrilled because Craig is my friend and I was rewarded with a very early advance promo of Vostok.  It is an excellent CD and Craig is a fine individual.  He deserves all the accolades that he is receiving!)

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Craig Padilla

Visit Spotted Peccary's website


In late 2000, an aspiring writer/producer solicited some music from Craig Padilla for a book/CD project.  Craig sent a CDR with three tracks - Distant Signals (chosen by the author), Monolith and Vostok.

Vostok was not one of the author's options.  It is 51 minutes and 48 seconds of some of the deepest and iciest minimalism ever to grace a compact disc.  It is due for a March, 2002 release on Spotted Peccary.

Craig composed and created this masterwork in honor of Lake Vostok in Antarctica.  A Russian expedition discovered the lake under the vast frozen wasteland of that continent.  The lake holds some mysterious to the beginnings of humankind.

But this music is about more than the lake.  It is vast enough, vacuous enough and cold enough to represent the entire continent.  The pounding winds and blinding snowstorms pound deep listeners from all directions - including within.  (Headphones are highly recommended!)  This is true desert ambience.  It merely explores venues different from what the progenitors of that style envisioned.  Much like Rudy Adrian, Vidna Obmana and TUU, Craig has mastered a difficult style - ICY DESERT MINIMALISM.  That term rolls off the tongue quite nicely.

(Craig told me that this is a favorite of his and Brooke's (his wife).  Even today, after more than a year, they still listen to this while they sleep.)

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Kudzu and 
and Michael Lococo



Kudzu's name often appeared in "Wind and Wire" magazine as well as in the new age music newsgroup, but I only recently discovered his music first-hand. I'm hooked! This is not piano music per se, but keyboards are used extensively, creating the soundtrack to a film that exists only in the listener's mind. Recordings like this could easily reignite the passion for sitting in a dark room and focusing on the music without distractions. At the very least, a listener will have to concentrate on the album a few times to really understand what is happening. It ain't a pretty picture, but it sure gets the pulse pounding and the visual images flowing! It is music to be experienced and savored in all of its deep complexity, allowing your mind go where the musical images take it.

If you are not familiar with it, absinthe is a bright green drink made from the  hallucinogenic extract from the wormwood plant, combined with anise. It was used extensively by artists and writers to enhance their creative vision (Oscar Wilde was a very prominent advocate), but is now banned in almost every country in the world. Even if absinthe were still available, this album would probably scare away anyone interested in experimenting with it. "Dancing With the Green Fairy" (Main Title Theme) opens the album with a mysterious and somewhat ominous feel - undoubtedly the preparation of the drink and consumption of it - temptation and seduction into a rapidly-changing mindstate. For the listener, this opening sequence is also compelling and seductive, drawing him or her in. Rhythms become more intense, as do the sound effects - we're in for a real ride here! The hallucinations begin with "Night of the Circus" - these clowns are definitely evil, and the calliope is scary with its breathy and distorted piping. Each track conjures up new visual experiences as the absinthe effect intensifies, taking the listener deeper and darker, creating an incredibly powerful experience. "Unwanted Memories of a Music Box, a Funeral, and a Merry-Go-Round" indicates how disjointed things are becoming. "Oblivion" begins almost serenely with a catchy rhythm - the calm before the storm. Next come "Faces in the Woodwork" and the (Nightmare Sequence), "Visions Through the Third Eye" - some of the scariest music I've ever heard (and more than 17 minutes' worth!). When the drinking glass is shattered amid the pounding rhythm of the nightmare, you just know this guy is totally enveloped in his darkest and most terrifying vision. What an exhilarating trip! It makes you want to return again and again for another fix!

"Absinthe" is another example of how broad the "new age" genre has become. This is not music to relax or unwind to, but is to be experienced for itself. It is about an intense as they come, and I thoroughly enjoy getting caught up in all of the visual images. Very highly recommended! It is available from

This Kathy Parsons review originally reviewed on the  Mainly Piano website. It is reprinted here on Ambient Visions with permission.


In Absence of Light

by Isomorph

Visit Isomorph's website


Bill Kendall records as Isomorph.  his home base is in Phoenix, literally a 'hot' bed of electronic music.  (The southwest is, in general, a bastion for e-music.  Todd Fletcher is in Phoenix; Michael Stearns is in Santa Fe; Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf are in Tucson.  I am sure that there are more.  I just don't know who they are.)

In Absence of Light is am mp3 D.A.M. CD.  And it is truly devoid of light.  Bill has created a very dark, foreboding and sinister soundscape.  And it has something extra.  Not surprisingly, there are elements of desert ambience on this CD.  A slow rhythm carries the dark clouds along the flow.  The nature samples are mysterious.  The atmospheres are dense, foggy, murky and gray.  There is no escape.  There is no hope.  There is only angst.

This is a great disc.  It is hard to evoke any emotional response.  It is more difficult to do so this intensely.

(As a quick aside - Bill also performs a remix of a composition by Eric Kessner, a.k.a. True Color of Blood, another dark minimalism specialist.  It is a natural that Bill and Eric are working together.)

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


True North

by Amir Baghiri and
Mathias Grassow

Visit Amir Baghiri's website

Visit Mathias Grassow's website

True North is a set of ominous tribal minimalism from Amir Baghiri and Mathias Grassow.  This is truly an inspired project undertaken by two of today's top electronicians.

Mathias has long been the undisputed leader of the minimalist drone.  Amir is one of Europe's leading tribal minimalists.  This dark and foggy set plays off their differences and to their similarities.

The music relates to the challenge of overcoming the obstacles imposed by the foreboding desolation of northern landscapes and the accompanying mythology.  By accepting the challenge, humanity gained strength and insight and a connection to forgotten roots.  Overcoming the challenge gives man a sense of power and an inflated ego.

So, the music, while triumphant at times, speaks more to the angst of isolation and the pain of neglect and abandonment.

This is great dark ambience and an essential CD.  Mathias is coming into his own and Amir into his.  This will be a collector's item when they get there.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Return Home