Barry Craig grew up playing guitar and writing songs - it was the mid 60s, after all, and that was what a teenager would do; a garage band, electric axe always at hand, ‘Louie Louie’ perfectly memorized. Over the following decades rock became more angular, fractious and radical, and Craig first made his way in the L.A. underground of the early 80s as guitarist in cult post-punk outfit Afterimage. But synthesizers and instrumental music, as well as a quest for deeper consciousness, were just around the corner.
He witnessed the incantations emanating from the music of Terry Riley (whom he’d later pay homage to with ‘Raga Riley’, featured in the 2021 Independent Project Records compilation Source), Brian Eno and Steve Reich, and promptly followed their lead. First came his Trance Port Tapes label (“something that transports you out of your daily routine and puts you into a space where your thoughts can travel”, he later enthused), and a determination to document transcendental sonics that were then starting to brew up around the City of Angels. With time he would prove a key player for the very trance music scene he had been helping to put on the map.
Debut solo album The Clearing came in 1988. There was no sign of Barry Craig on the sleeve - the record was credited to A Produce. That had been Craig’s musical nom de plume since before his Afterimage days; he had produced an album for another musician who had given every player involved a new name: Craig got the most essential and descriptive one, ‘a producer’. The ‘r’ was subsequently dropped, but the moniker endured; it made for a fascinating, striking contrast with Craig’s ethereal sound. “What I'm interested in is a deeper experience”, he told Wind and Wire in ‘97. “This genre of music, no matter what you call it, can be melodic, dissonant, gentle, aggressive, environmental, industrial, rhythmic, droney. Whatever instrumentation is used is secondary to the effect it achieves rather than the sum of the parts - the object is to weave a spell in sound, draw the listeners in, lift them out of their daily routine into a realm where their thoughts can soar into other realms. From the simplest daydreaming to the deepest of trances”.
A Produce described his privately released, small-run debut full-length as "an album of conceptual space”, rooted in Los Angeles’ early post-punk / DIY scene but containing an intersection of styles incorporating the new experimental, trance music that was then starting to coalesce. The Clearing is a masterpiece of flow and cohesion, blending early electronic rhythms with keyboards, guitar and synthesizers which careen from lively, hypnotic grooves to deeper, inward-looking minimalist ambient passages. Following a very limited CDr version of the album he remastered together with electronic artist Loren Nerell in 2008 (three years before Barry Craig’s premature death), Independent Project Records is honored to reissue The Clearing in early 2023, giving this ambient jewel the expanded CD reissue treatment it deserves.