Barry Craig (A Produce) – some thoughts

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)

26 Comments »

  1. This is unfortunate. I grew up in high school listening to his music on late night Echoes here in the Inland Empire before that went away down here. I heard his music on Hearts of Space and Musical Starstreams as well.

    Comment by Al — September 13, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  2. Its strange because the day i’ve learned this news, i pick a cd of Steve Roach and Loren – Terraform for my discman… I would like to mention – i’ve never heard this music – that this events make me realize how impact your musical way influence my life (i think of vidna obmana also…)…I think – i dont know him – he produce sounds from another world – because this anti-current is a spiritual way – like a punk mood- to quit the absurd speed of life !!!
    (sorry again for the wrong english!!!……………
    -i’ve also drink a couple of glass of good black beers !!!

    Comment by Alex — September 16, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  3. Sad news…

    He made interesting music, fantastic soundworlds and atmospheres.

    It is a staggering loss…

    Comment by Leo — September 17, 2011 @ 6:28 am

  4. I guess this was the last project he had worked on?

    http://www.steveroach.com/store/store.php?item=464

    Comment by Al — September 19, 2011 @ 1:51 am

  5. Yes, “Intangible” with Loren Nerell came out on Hypnos the week before Barry passed away. Loren called me the same day that he learned the news. I think this was Barry’s first release in several years.

    Comment by admin — September 19, 2011 @ 2:14 am

  6. Very disheartening to hear this. I too remember hearing his music being played on the radio back in the mid and late 90’s when I was just starting to get exposed to SpaceMusic.

    Obviously this was a very sudden event…..so it is quite shocking to hear this.

    Very cool music he had…..he will be missed.

    Comment by John Lyell — October 13, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  7. Robert, thanks for taking the time to provide this insight regarding Barry – I hadn’t seen anything released by A Produce for quite some time, then recently heard Stephen Hill speak to A Produce in the past tense during a lead-in to recent program …. and stumbled across your ‘thoughts’ regarding same this morning. Wow …. it certainly does cause one to pause.
    Thanks again, Norman Hoag

    Comment by norman hoag — October 16, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  8. Robert.. I never had a chance to really speak with Barry.. But when we did.. is was for a short time while on facebook.. After a leave of 6 months, I just did return to facebook only to his last words messaged to me.. “Welcome Back!” then he was gone..

    Comment by Ore Gorman aka Ambient Review — October 19, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  9. Sad sad news. I loved A Produce and will miss his extraordinary music. Some of my fav listening.

    Comment by Greg Foley — October 31, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

  10. I just read this tonight, and was shocked to hear this! I got “Intangible” on 9/6/11 and was quite excited about it, as it was the first new release from A Produce in quite a few years! It’s a great CD, too! I first discovered his music in early 2007, thanks to Lynn Augstein’s “Borealis” DVD, and then proceeded to collect everything he released. He had some truly amazing music. This is indeed sad news. He will be missed.

    Comment by Joe — November 2, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  11. I discovered A. Produce’s music a few years back and quickly bought his back catalogue.

    Along with Ruben Garcia, Harold Budd, Mr. Rich, and others, Barry’s took the substantial roots planted by Brian Eno and other Ambient rootsmakers and took them in directions that substantially enriched both the Ambient genre and music, in general.

    I think that, most of all, he was truly adept in uncovering and highlighting the subtle shadings of tone and spatial aspects of music. His deep ambient works (Altara [with Ruben] and A Smooth Surface immediately come to mind) really honored the spirit of Eno without blatantly copying or mimicking. Creating truly compelling and deceptively “simple” pieces is NOT easy. None of these long works were boring in the least and held up rigorously under repeat listenings.

    It irritates me that, outside of the Ambient community, not more people were exposed to his creative greatness.

    He’ll be deeply missed.

    Comment by Bob G. — November 16, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  12. It’s now a year after Barry’s death. I never had a chance to tell you how great this entry was. Thank you, Robert.

    Dean

    Comment by Dean De Benedictis — September 7, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  13. Thanks, Dean. Time still does have a way of moving forward, doesn’t it?

    Comment by admin — September 7, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

  14. A wonderful composer and innovator whose music was of a transcendental fabric – evocative, enlightening, enveloping.

    Comment by Robert Scott Thompson — September 7, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  15. Friends of Barry Craig (A PRODUCE),

    I am a friend and collaborator with Barry. We have worked together in allowing me to integrate his music into my digital films. Two of which you are welcome to watch on VIMEO.

    AGT1500 https://vimeo.com/46269383
    Man Trap https://vimeo.com/45347754

    At this 1 year of his passing, I am committed as ever to see my film projects that were being collaborated 1-year ago, developed to fruition. Like the films above; and more to come. So we’ll see a reintroduction of A PRODUCE in a integrated and transformed way through the creation of these digital films.

    I enjoyed reading all your comments posted here. It inspired me to write and remember our friend.

    Bart Santello
    bart@psychotropicfilms.com

    Comment by Bart Santello — September 7, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

  16. I am late hearing about this, and saddened by Barry’s unexpected and sudden passing. I have liked his music since the early 90’s, and found this post when I looked for news of his recent work. Thanks Robert, for keeping this up until we can all read it.

    Jeff Johansen

    Comment by Jeff Johansen — November 1, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  17. I am so sorry to hear about my friend A. Produce. I was introduced to him by my friend Ruben Garcia. He was a huge influence on my music. We used to enjoy meeting for lunch in the valley when I used to live in California. We lost touch when I left California. I play his music all the time for my wife OVE and I to enjoy. He will be sadly missed by many friends and music lovers. Goodbye old friend. Peace…..”EVO”

    Comment by John "EVO" Lo Re — November 25, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  18. I am one of Barry’s sisters. On this 2 year anniversary of Barry’s death our family misses him everyday. Thank you for all you kind words. I don’t think anyone in our family fully understood all of his music like all of you have mentioned. It sounds like he had a very special nitch for this kind of music. May we all enjoy the pieces that he left us as his gift to the music world. RIP Barry. Cheryl

    Comment by Cheryl Parker — September 4, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  19. Thank you for finding this thread, Cheryl. Indeed Barry’s contribution was special and important. We all miss him. – Robert

    Comment by admin — September 4, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

  20. I have been planning a show celebrating AP music on my first Ultima Thule of 2014 – UT1003 – hope it reaches Barry somewhere and thanks Robert for being such a good friend for him, writing those kind words.
    nev

    Comment by Nev Dorrington — December 30, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

  21. Its now over 2 years and I write this while listening to A Produce ‘Black Sands’ album.

    Barry had a way of making sparse, moody, sometimes dark but beautiful and thoughtful music…Like Robert Rich, Patrick O Hearn and Steve Roach, I can listen to this stuff day or night.

    Barry will be missed. RIP.

    Doug UK

    Comment by Doug Squire — January 23, 2014 @ 6:41 am

  22. Thank you for posting, Doug! Ironically I am in Long Beach right now visiting with Loren Nerell, and we were just talking about Barry last night. – Robert

    Comment by admin — January 23, 2014 @ 11:42 am

  23. I was Barry’s oldest friend and want to thank everyone who has posted comments here. We met many, many moons ago (1960)and off and on for 30 years (1964-1994)we collaborated on a wide range of music inspired by a wide variety of the artists who were active during those years. For those who don’t know, Barry was also wrote very fine lyrics and was a sensitive, expressive singer. His final vocal performance was recorded in September 1994, a rumination on life and death we co-wrote entitled “Time of Day.” Still can’t grasp the reality that he is truly gone.

    Comment by David R. Greenland — March 4, 2014 @ 11:14 am

  24. […] A Produce was the ambient music project of Barry Craig, an ambient musician who passed away in September of 2011. Robert Rich wrote an excellent essay on his passing and his contributions to ambient music. You can find it here: http://robertrich.com/barry-craig-a-produce-some-thoughts/ […]

    Pingback by At Water's Edge » Blog Archive » Desert — May 24, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

  25. So very sad to learn of Barry’s passing. I published a cassette-underground zine in the mid-80s and corresponded a bit with Barry. He wrote an extraordinary guide to trance music that he sent, for review, along with the exquisite tapes his label produced. The booklet, which covered a broad range of artists and styles all unified by a hypnotic/trance quality (everything from the Sex Pistols to Can to Miles Davis), had an enormous influence on the way I listen to and appreciate music to this day. I hope someday somone will republish it, because it’s still relevant. He is missed.

    Comment by Eric Rehardt — December 15, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

  26. […] A Produce was the ambient music project of Barry Craig, an ambient musician who passed away in September of 2011. Robert Rich wrote an excellent essay on his passing and his contributions to ambient music. You can find it here: http://robertrich.com/barry-craig-a-produce-some-thoughts/ […]

    Pingback by Desert | At Water's Edge — August 15, 2015 @ 10:06 pm

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