Howard Givens & Craig Padilla — Being of Light
(Spotted Peccary SPM-9094, 2017, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-10-30
Craig Padilla has been composing long-form deep space epics for over twenty years, with over two dozen releases to his credit; his first release for the Spotted Peccary label was the ambient masterpiece Vostok way back in 2002, with at least six more releases for the label in the years since. Howard Givens has an even longer career going back thirty or more years, but without nearly as many releases, though he is the founder of the Spotted Peccary label (their very first release was his project Brain Laughter's In the Land of Power) and produces and engineers nearly all of the releases on the label, as well as for other artists in a similar vein like Steve Roach. This is the duo’s second collaboration, the first being 2015’s essential release Life Flows Water. The release at hand, Being of Light, is an expansive widescreen ambient panorama that moves forward at a measured pace, but remains full of electronic subtleties and beautiful washes of harmonic color, primarily electronic but punctuated with acoustic and electric instrumentation (piano, guitar) and mysterious and mesmerizing textures borne of modular synths and visionary studio techniques. The disc opens with “Clearing the Mind,” a mostly electronic piece that builds itself slowly over its thirteen minutes around two repeated chords played on a grand piano, which by the end becomes the backbone of the piece. Following that, we have the nearly fifteen minute “Threads of Thought” that stretches out to further horizons, now introducing the electric guitar into the mix with a dreamy wash of synths. The album’s centerpiece is the 30+ minute aptly titled “A Contemplative State,” a deep reflective wall of interacting elastic synth threads that is constantly in motion yet still capable of inducing a near-dreamlike state if that’s where the listener chooses to go, though this disc can be experiences on many different levels. The title track closes the set nicely, ten minutes of slow evolution and expansive states that are at once deep, captivating and stunningly beautiful.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more