Exposé Online banner

Michael Padilla — Atmospheres (Ambient Works Vol. 1)
(Fruits de Mer strange fish seven, 2015, Picture Disc+CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-01-10

Atmospheres (Ambient Works Vol. 1) Cover art

Front man for the US neo-psych band The Soft Bombs, Michael Padilla, stretches his musical muscles by recording a full album of ambient music. This music is so out of character for Fruits de Mer that Keith Jones elected to release it on their experimental sub-label Strange Fish. To add to the experimental aspect of the music, Keith also decided that it was time to issue their first picture disc. Fully recognizing the sonic limitations of a picture disc and the expected criticism from vinyl junkies, they are including a CD with the four tracks (one is an extended version of the vinyl track) plus a bonus track. Michael’s compositional approach on this solo album was to learn from the master Brian Eno and his ground breaking Discreet Music. Michael used only a sampler and a loop pedal to create constantly shifting and morphing soundscapes. Each track was spontaneously composed and performed in his studio on May 26, 2014, December 29, 2014, December 30, 2014, January 10, 2015, and January 12, 2105. The promo only contains the four tracks on the LP, so that is where I will focus my attention. Side A opens with “Northern Lights.” I have never seen the Northern Lights, but the constantly shifting and floating nature of the music is the sonic equivalent of the aurora. Though there is some uniformity of the music, the constant shifting maintains your interest throughout the track. The second track is “Crossing East.” This is a slow electronic piece that reminds me of Fred Becker’s Inner, Stellar and some of Roedelius’ ambient works. This is ambient electronic music, but nothing like Tangerine Dream. There are no pentatonic sequences or Hollywood soundtrack riffs. Side B opens with “Ecstagony,” and a dark drone intro similar to early Tangerine Dream. Think of Alpha Centauri, Zeit, or Atem. However, over its 15 minutes the drifting chords tend to brighten a bit and the music approaches Inner, Stellar again. The closing track is the three-minute “The Waiting.” This dark ambient track is in the bass register that eventually is overlaid by a bass melody line. The CD version contains an extended version of “Crossing East” and the bonus track “Dark Matter.” Quite a departure for FdM and an impressive album package. The uniqueness of this release is sure to make Atmospheres an instant collector’s item!


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Michael Padilla

Latest news

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
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

2019-03-03
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

2019-02-21
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


Previously in Exposé...

Eleanor Hovda - Coastal Traces – Hovda is an important, yet little known composer who has been active on the contemporary music scene for over twenty years, mostly through live performances, scores for dance companies (of which...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues