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Craig Padilla & Zero Ohms: When the Earth Is Far Away

November 10, 2012

Some things are worth waiting for. Like When the Earth Is Far Away, the third collaboration between electronic composer Craig Padilla and flute/wind-synth guru Zero Ohms. The duo continue the voyage into the deepest realms of the galaxy that began with Path of Least Resistance and carried through Beyond the Portal. Here we find ourselves searching the edges of the universe, discovering some beautiful new planet and making it habitable. The flow of the music distinctly supports this stated narrative, and it does so while stretching time and utterly immersing the listener in the story. This is soft-edged spacemusic, vast and stunning, built on long pads from both artists–Padilla’s patient electronic arcs and Ohms’ breath-borne, organic tones. Our arrival at the new planet is marked by the surprising arrival of the sound of waves in “Blue Distance”–it’s an interesting and effective wake-up call after almost a half-hour of drifting through the space between stars. The last roughly 20 minutes of the disc are given over to the very quiet movements of “Terraforming,” where Padilla and Ohms, along with frequent partner Skip Murphy at first give us a slow and considerate surveying of the untouched planet, then begin easing it into richer life, the tones turning upward and becoming more vibrant. Light touches of pinging electronics in the background have the feel of science doing its work without disturbing harmony. Sequencers late in the track impart energy and optimism into the mix, and the story becomes complete. And the final 90 seconds…well, I’ll leave that lovely touch for you to discover when you take this journey.

When the Earth Is Far Away is a classic spacemusic disc. It gives us the big electronic vistas we love, but it also excels in telling us a very distinct story. We depart, we travel, we arrive, we reach a conclusion. And we do so with our minds being softly salved, allowed to craft this ride, this space, this tale as our imaginations will. This is not only a perfect capper to a trilogy of great discs, it’s simply a standout disc in the genre. (Applause to Ben Cox for his elegant mastering job.) This is a must-hear for spacemusic lovers, and a standard-setter for spacemusic artists.

Kudos also go to Jeff Kowal for his fantastic artwork. The cover art (seen above) is excellent, but you’ve got to see the inside where Kowal melds surf and stars into an amazing vista.

Available from Lotuspike.

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