The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden
The Owl of Fives

Cover Image
The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden - The Owl of Fives

December 2003

FR CD Textile CD04

  1. Preamble
  2. Farewell My Porcupine
  3. Gong Farm - [MP3]
  4. Singing Norway to Sleep
  5. The Opposite of Earthquakes
  6. Still Flinging Clowns - [MP3]
  7. Baltic Chunks of Antiquity
  8. Early Music of the Morning
  9. Haiku Cigarette - [MP3]
  10. Shambles
  11. Fire and Elephantine
  12. Clown Reprise

Daniel Padden - music
Mary Wells played violin on 2, 6, and 7.
Andra Kulans played viola on 4, 5, and 9.
Dave McDonnell played clarinet on 9.
Alex Neilson played drums and percussion on 7.

recorded between 2000 and 2003

As a member of the U.K.'s Volcano the Bear since 1995, Daniel Padden has been involved in the creation of some of the most compelling and challenging music in recent memory. Drawing on the work of Robert Wyatt, Faust, This Heat, and the like, Volcano the Bear quickly developed a strong and devoted following and released record on such notable labels as United Dairies, Misra, Beta-Lactam Ring. All of this, however, cannot prepare one for the revelation that is Padden's other project, The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden. While there are obvious connections with his Volcano the Bear work (and VTB members make appearances from time to time), The Owl of fives is really in a universe all its own, strange and beautiful and unique. As an album, The Owl of fives is pretty difficult to pin down. In much the same way as Richard Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith, or the early Third Ear Band, Padden uses traditional folk structures as the basis for much of songs here. But other, even more esoteric, influences are at work here as well: Southeast Asian traditional musics, acoustic jazz flourishes, perhaps even the mystical minimalism of Terry Riley. So what does all this mean for the listener? A strange and beautiful amalgam of (mostly) wordless vocals, stumbling piano, scurrying cello, mournful kazoo interludes, deranged waltzes, and stuff that's totally unidentifiable combined into Padden's skewed and wayward outsider music. What's most important about The Owl of fives at least to these ears is the truly epic mournfulness that permeates it all. This is about mood, folks, and Padden emotes like few can. This song cycle plays at times like a funeral dirge, at others like a carnivalesque choir of gypsies, but whatever the mood, this music is intimate, beautiful, and deeply-felt.

"The Owl of Fives" rivals the finest experimental folk releases of 04 or any other year." (Foxy Digitalis)

"As much as we dig UK musical experimentalists Volcano The Bear and their disjointed sonic surrealism, VtB member Daniel Padden has always managed to take that sound of theirs even further, somewhere else entirely, to a place where his juxtapositions coalesce into a dark and highly personal, mostly instrumental melancholia. Meandering and thoughtful, like a twilight walk through a musical forest, just wandering, laying down on the ground when the mood strikes you, gazing at patches of sky through the dense canopy of leaves, feeling the wet earth soak through your clothes, shivering as small insects crawl all over you tickling your skin, squinting as you're blinded by a brilliant shaft of sunlight that breaks through the trees, then melts into the forest floor beneath while you're sprinkled with a fine mist as the wind looses the condensation from the branches. This not-so-precise effect is achieved with reverby pianos in vast expanses of space, slippery slide guitar, plinkety plonk keyboards, soaring minor key strings, Appalachian guitar picking over squirming beds of bombinating drones. Padden's dense buzzing ragas are all dreamy and melancholy and super intimate and personal sounding, but somehow at the same time are grandiose and epic, with occasional waltz-like marches, like chamber music for some outer space / otherworldly king and his court. Occasionally delicate and haunting, occasionally rambunctious and a little chaotic. But always totally beautiful and mesmerising and truly mysterious. Think somewhere between Eyvind Kang, the Sun City Girls, Kronos Quartet, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Jack Rose. All that and more is filtered through Padden's slightly skewed musical mind's eye." (Aquaruis Records)

"I don't think it's possible to overrate the importance of the landscape. It will always suck you in but it will affect you in different ways depending on location. I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of the most fascinated music created today has its origin in places draped in natural beauty or which hold certain characteristics of a similar power. I'm not quite sure what's magical about the place Daniel Padden calls home but judging by the sounds presented on his second solo outing Owl of Fives there got to be something. Padden is known for his work with the indescribable and quite wonderful Volcano the Bear combo and this solo album is right up there in terms of sonic qualities. As a matter of fact I think he's actually trekking to the same valley of hidden music that the 'Bear so successfully pay a visit every now and then. It's like the music just has been hanging in the air of this specific vista, awaiting the right guy to come along and interpret it to something, which is audible for the masses. What we're served is a kind of free folk which comes packed with equal parts melancholia, dissonance and fragile beauty. No track is ever built up the way you expect them to be but there's nothing forced about these multi-instrumental folk meanderings. I am not really sure how Padden manages to be so successful at his game but there's something so natural in the way keys, strings, horns, bells, percussion merge into one united trail through the wilderness. Words like stumbling, fractured and fragmentized comes to mind but the overall impression is rather the one of seasons going by and colors changing in accordance to the sounds presented. Imagine an instrumental version of Tanakh teaming up with Kemialliset Ystävät or Tower Recordings and you're definitely in the right terrain. And what a mesmerizing terrain it proves to be." (Mats Gustafsson, Ptolemaic Terrascope)

"The only album I bought this year that I think may have a secret life all of its own when I am not watching." (Sean Witzman, Foxy Digitalis)

"The past few months have seen the dispersal of a clutch of side projects by the four members of Volcano The Bear, including Songs of Norway (Aaron Moore and Nick Mott), Earth Trumpet (Laurence Coleman), Guignol (Moore, Coleman and Jeremy Barnes of Bablicon) and El Monte (Mott solo). However, none of these projects have been as immediately enjoyable and as consistently rewarding as Daniel Padden's work as The One Ensemble. The Owl Of Fives is Padden's second full-length album, a collection of composed pieces run the gamut stylistically, but maintain an integrity that makes all of it unmistakably the work of the same talented musician. Padden freely borrows Oriental melodies, Fahey-style revenant blues, Indian classical, plaintive piano ballads and outsider folk traditions to create a platter of tuneful exploration that captured and held my attention for its entire length. The One Ensemble's arrangements are cleverly sparse, using as little as possible to convey the fragile melodies that populate the album. This compositional economy is the key element that allows The Owl Of Fives to achieve its stylistic shifts without seeming calculated or overwrought. In fact, as the album progresses from start to finish, the compounding of disparate music strategies gets better with each track, rather than becoming tiresome. The loose exotica of "Farewell, My Porcupine" welds Kyoto folk to Arthur Lyman piano jazz, replete with multitracked non-verbal chanting. Elsewhere, stately medieval melodies are created in the coversations between Padden's violin, acoustic guitar and piano. "Early Music of the Morning" takes its cue from the "morning raga," a term used in Indian classical music to connote a languid, relaxing melody appropriate for morning ablutions. Against a hazy drone, Padden pulls gently bending tones from his cello that brilliantly mimic a sitar. The recurring musical theme of "Still Flinging Clowns" most closely resemble the Bear, with its shambling, whimsical atmosphere and vocal glossolalia. The intimate production captures those tiny flaws - the scrape of cello strings, the clearing of throats - that lend an organic, present-tense quality to the music. With The Owl Of Fives, The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden has created a work of understated, melodic brilliance." (Jonathan Dean, Brainwashed)

"...wonderful talent for creating music that seems both completely unearthly and utterly familiar at the same time. Even better than the eponymous debut, "The Owl Of Fives" is a joyous album indeed, convincingly fusing mainly folk-influenced melodies to unusual instrumentation; Padden is one of these musicians who seems to be able to do something with anything, be it a kazoo, a Stylophone, an unconventionally tuned guitar or even some wine glasses. Mostly instrumental and with a strong eastern European flavour at times, this is a cheeringly melodic, compelling and vivacious album which succeeds in holding the attention, in surprising the listener from beginning to end and in showcasing Padden's considerable talent without once feeling self-indulgent or showy. An absolute delight from start to finish..." (Moopy)

This review has been put through the fantastical internet translator from the Italian Inoz website. Enjoy...
"To discover the existence of Daniel Padden and to travel over again of backwards, leaving from this last album, the stages of the career, going back its work with the English formation of the Volcano the Bear to begin from 1995, have been one surprised continuous, that creed will deserve an ulterior deepening in the next participations on the pages of this situated one. In order now creed can be enough a fast presentation of this small jewel, than small in truth it is not, since it contains a greatest amount of musical references, filters from one untiring creativity to you. The base of all the job is constituted from the folk more hidden and outside line that I memories. The past week I had accidentally published the book review of the sonorous column of The Wicker Man , well one rispolverata to that one paginetta can supply the first coupling, therefore as a careful look to the Third Ear Band and the Comus di First Utterance (sees 10 Discs folk ) in order then to change (apparently) direction and to riascoltare Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band , gives To Rainbow in Curved Air, of Terry Riley. I become account to have called in cause absolutely cumbersome names when draft to risk comparisons, nevertheless creed to have made it without esagerazoni excessive, why this The Owl of Fives deserves of being listened to with much attention. It digs in depth to the base of one upgrades them construction of folk total, part from an ideal point in the heart of Europe, in an encounter earth and crash of various cultures, running after the influences that converge in that place from east and the West, north and south and them tells with a music that it knows to create fantasiosi scenes life push-buttons, in which landscapes that $ forgiveness of eye (and ear) dark visions and alarming are transformed in a moment in, through a verio route and seducente. If one lets to slide The Owl of Fives us it renders account of how much difficult one is to distinguish of the contours spaces them and temporal, of as the vibrating musical matter of which it is made has been obtained interlacing wise threads that places and various times come from, apparently far, but that they come it transforms to you in a coherent and fascinating uniccum from the ability of Padden. Emblematic also the name that it has chosen, the One Ensemble , for a plan that sees it like only true protagonist, nearly to emphasize this idea of one who becomes multiple, in absorbing cues and references, and of the multiple one that become one, when those ideas come elaborated through a process (ri)generativo."