DE LP/CD Dekorder 026
Since 1995 Daniel Padden has been a member of Volcano the Bear, with several highly regarded album releases on Nurse With Wound's United Diaries label, Textile and Beta-Lactam Ring Records. After his move to Glasgow he started The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden as an outlet for his solo recordings with releases on Catsup Plate, Secret Eye and Textile. When The One Ensemble slowly metamorphosed into a band of its own, Padden started to record his solo output under his birth name, with last year's "The Isaac Storm" on the Ultra Exzema label being the first seminal result. Over the years Padden has developed a strong fascination for obscure musics from all over the world (re his recent "Epiphanies" article for The Wire magazine): mouth organ love-songs from Thailand, the Ramayana Monkey chant from Bali, Khene pieces from Laos; so-called world music from Burundi to Bulgaria. Combining these interests with his love for British folk and art rock (This Heat, Robert Wyatt), kraut rock (Faust), free jazz, the surreal collage techniques of Nurse With Wound and the odd humour of the Residents, he has developed a totally unique and highly personal musical vision without ever sounding overambitious or directionless. Gorgeous song-writing is seamlessly transformed into pure fuzz or string drones, suddenly interrupted by some improvised reeds or collapsing percussion, all within the blink of an eye, and never losing its natural flow, "Pause for the Jet" is already an auspicious aspirant for our "record of the year".
Both in- and outside Volcano the Bear, Daniel Padden has made some stunning music and his One Ensemble are the golden children in my eyes. Their jubilant and rapturous music is some of the most thrilling music currently available on a compact disc. Yet with this solo album, Padden takes the same spirit of his ensemble but strips it down to the bare essential (himself). With an occasional guest player, Padden has crafted an idiosyncratic, unassuming and fascinating album complete with hummable melodies and confounding noises. That demented folk sound that Padden usually employs is of course here in full. Mutated Eastern European scales and primal folk arrangements appear in various guises throughout the album. "Marseille Tape" (among quite a few other songs) utilises the cello playing of Peter Nicholson but Padden has edited the cello recordings down to create John Cale-esque string drones, propelling the other elements of the song like Cale's viola propelled the Velvets on. Elsewhere Padden chops up the tracks almost arbitrarily in places, creating dreamy juxtapositions between shapeless recordings and songs. Pause for the Jet has quite a different mood to the recent output by Padden's One Ensemble, comparable in that they sound like they come from the same place but the music here has an intimate quality to them, the songs sound like wax cylinder recordings made by a crazy old recluse for his own amusement. For example, "Crow Crow Growth" sounds utterly strange and sincere. Overall the album is less flashy and probably will come an undeserved second to the One Ensemble releases as they are more obvious in their excitement. Many of the pieces feel like short sketches rather than finished compositions but that being said, this is certainly not just a collection of demos thrown together for a quick penny; there is a looseness to the recordings that sounds so playful, so warm. Those familiar with Padden and Volcano the Bear have probably abandoned this review from the start so they can go and order it post-haste. That Padden has a Midas touch when it comes to music is no secret and anyone who is still with us (i.e. casual Volcano the Bear fans or welcome newcomers) who is on the fence about that group's offshoots could do far worse than pick this up. For Volcano fans who have returned at this point, your money is well spent. This is one of those albums that although does not jump out screaming "Play me!" will provide much enjoyment and calm on the occasions it is noticed. - John Kealy, Brainwashed