Michael Padilla – “Atmospheres: Ambient Works Volume One” (Fruits de Mer Records/Strangefish 2015, LP+CD)

On his new solo album, Michael Padilla explores territory very different from his Psych bands The Soft Bombs and Dora Flood. Atmospheres consists of four soundscapes influenced by Eno’s Discreet Music, created using a sampler and looper pedal.

Side A opens with Northern Lights, which floats us along on a celestial sailboat, gliding over an endless succession of gently ebbing and flowing soundscape waves of classic meditative and spiritually uplifting ambience. Crossing East has a Mellotronic sound with its beautifully melodic keyboard/flute combo feel, as if it were one isolated layer from a classic 70s Prog album. Padilla travels down a more overtly orchestral path on the Side B dominating Ecstagony. An underlying tuba-like drone supports an astral string section that tugs at the heartstrings, creating the sensation of sitting in some kind of planetarium symphony hall. The Waiting is a short coda to Ecstagony, though it’s darker and heavier on the drones and the string section is replaced by an electronic horn section. Very nice set though I have to say I’m partial to the Side A tracks. And all this with just a sampler and looper pedal? I’d stupid about the details of the arsenals at musicians’ disposal and always marvel at what technology can do.

Atmospheres will be available in January. Note that this is a vinyl LP only release, limited to 500 copies pressed on Fruits de Mer’s first ever picture disc. Mindful of the concerns over picture disc sound quality the LP comes with a CD version that includes a fifth bonus track.

For more information visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at: http://fruitsdemerrecords.com

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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