Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
A Produce — Land of a Thousand Trances
(Independent Project Records IPR090SECD, 1994/2023, 2CD / DL)
A Produce — The Clearing
(Independent Project Records IP077SECD, 1988/2023, CD / LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-09-15
A Produce was the nom de plume of composer and multi-instrumentalist Barry Craig, who was active in the California trance music scene going back to the early 80s. Prior to his work as a solo artist, he was a member of the four-piece group Afterimage, which released a cassette Anthology in 1984. Beginning in 1988, he released a series of albums, first on the Trance Port label, later moving to Hypnos in 1999 where he released one solo and two collaborative albums (one with M Griffin and another with Loren Nerell) before passing away in 2011 at the young age of 59. Beginning in 2023 The Los Angeles based Independent Project Records has launched a reissue campaign for the long-out-of-print Trance Port releases by A Produce, all expanded and remastered. The first album, The Clearing, was released in February, and his third, Land of a Thousand Trances, was released in August of this year. By the third album his style encompassed elements of trance, floating ambient, industrial, and world music, but on the first album the sound is even more varied, including elements of experimental sound sculpture and even songcraft with vocals.
“Farming in Arabia” kicks off The Clearing with hand drum underscoring a powerful melody on organ, with some occasional blasts of unusual sonic effects and imaginative flights of rarified electric guitar. “Tunnels” takes a bold step into a more gentle sequenced soundworld with broad sweeping textural drifts, while “Owachomo” grooves over a slightly funky beat with sparse swaths of organ and guitar. “Pulse” offers a faster, more upbeat pace with unusual voices and viola by guest Josie Roth. Other musicians guest on this track or that throughout the original album’s nine tracks as well as the four bonus cuts that adorn this edition. Perhaps the most unusual cut, by comparison to the others, is the song “Ashes of Love.” floating in on an ambient carpet but quickly turning into a song with a steady groove and jangly guitar sprites, and vocals by guest singer / bassist Daniel Voznick (who was also a member of Afterimage). “The Raw Silk, the Uncarved Block” is another instrumental standout that spends a fair anount of its near-nine minute duration drifting through an ambient field of bells and gongs before turning into a fast-paced drum furrow for guitars and unusual effects. The title track caps off the original album with a haunting melodic shimmer that wanders through cavernous dreamscapes. Of the four bonus tracks included, the standouts would certainly be the warm and cyclic “Raga Riley” and the mysteriously colorfully sequenced “Dorian Imagination.” The Clearing is a masterful collection of well executed ideas that grows on the listener.
Fast forward four years and A Produce released his second effort Reflect Like a Mirror, Respond Like an Echo, which Independent Project Records reissued in an expanded edition with three bonus tracks back in 2021, along with the three-disc career spanning compilation Black Sands. The third original A Produce release arrived in 1994, Land of a Thousand Trances, originally released as a CD of eight tracks, then issued again by Trance Port in a two-disc special edition version with ten bonus tracks. This new remastered edition includes all of the pieces from that two-disc version, eighteen tracks in all. It’s clear that in the six years between The Clearing and Land of a Thousand Trances that the trajectory of the music has become more focused, with an emphasis on floating ambient, trance, and world music, while shedding much of the experimental electronica and song-based material of six years earlier. That change is neither good nor bad, it just is what it is, representing an evolution in the artist’s interests and vision, a change that can be noted and quantified. The album kicks off with “The Far Shore,” based on a series of sweeping melodic bursts executed on ambient guitar with synth and deep random percussive backing, much like the echoey blasts of thunder in a storm. An alternate stripped down ‘solo version’ exists on the second disc. The title track comes in next, at nearly nine minutes; it’s a powerful trance-percussive whirlwind of drums and bells with guest players joining on keyboards. With “Heart of the Dunes” a more widescreen floating ambient sound is explored, beautifully melodic and shimmering with smooth textures. There are numerous standouts across the album’s eighteen tracks, including the pulsating veil of color offered up in “The Dreaming Room” (presented in both studio and live versions), the raga inspired “The Wall of Dali” (presented in two different versions, one on each disc), the churning, busy interlude “Lost River,” and the dreamy and magical eight-minute orchestra of bells and gongs titled “It Comes in Waves,” with an even longer near-twelve minute version on the second disc. Both of these classic A Produce albums have much to offer the adventurous listener, especially in their expanded, remastered versions.
Related artist(s): Barry Craig (A Produce)
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