The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden - "The Owl of fives"
The Owl Of Fives goes further into the strangely minimal, wayward world inhabited by The One Ensemble Of Daniel Padden. The Owl Of Fives is weird and earthy. The Owl Of Fives is skewed folk music from a country that never existed.
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.