Barry Craig passed away last Sunday, September 4. I have been told the cause was acute pancreatitis. Some of you may also know him as A Produce.
Barry helped clarify the language to describe the California scene of electronic music in the early ’80s. By using the phrase “trance music” he tried to distinguish our efforts from 70’s European “space-music” or Eno’s “ambient”. He tried to distance our more edgy style from the bliss of new-age spiritualism. He wrote essays explaining that “trance music” should have shadows, it could be more urban, and reflect the challenges of our time.
We all participated in the early ’80s’s cassette underground, and some of us found our way onto record labels over the years. Barry remained self-released, with special artistic packaging, trying to create real objects of art. He realized the Quixotic nature of his approach. Many of us collaborated with him, and we respected his original vision, and self-effacing personality.
Barry was an introvert, shy, socially awkward when outside of his milieu. But he also had an intense concentration, a singular vision. He knew what he wanted. He also celebrated the music he loved, and enjoyed networking with artists he respected. He became a hub of sorts, talkative, open, remaining behind the scenes and with little fanfare.
Barry and I became closer friends when he began using me as a mastering engineer, in the mid-’90s. I think I prepared at least five of his albums for release. I deeply enjoyed working on his music. It sounded fresh, honest, not contrived nor imitative. His compositions hovered on the edge between rock and ambient, and I enjoyed the tension he created in his atmospheres.
Barry’s death came as a big surprise last week. Loren Nerell called me first, very soon after he learned the news. We have all been friends for decades. Loren and I talked at length. We stumbled a bit with words, surprised at this reminder of the fragility of life. A few days later I had a long phone call with Dean de Benedictus (Surface 10), another close friend with Barry. We discussed the importance of maintaining a thriving artistic vision, Quixotic though it may be. We owe it to those who have stayed true to themselves, that we also stay true, and keep making the most honest art that we can.
Robert Rich (9-12-11)