Today's artist is an American avant-garde composer and poet. He was born May 24, 1936 (age 77) in Los Angeles, and raised in the Mojave Desert. He has developed a style of playing piano he terms "Soft Pedal.". ..... N'Joy
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The American ambient/neo-classical composer who has most closely allied himself with the increasingly sympathetic independent rock underground -- through his collaborations with the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie -- Harold Budd is also one of the very few who can very rightly be called an ambient composer. His music, a sparse and tonal wash of keyboard treatments, was inspired by a boyhood spent listening to the buzz of telephone wires near his home in the Mojave Desert town of Victorville, CA (though he was born in nearby Los Angeles). Though interested in music from an early age, Budd was 30, already married, and with children of his own by the time he graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in musical composition in 1966. He became a respected name in the circle of minimalist and avant-garde composers based in Southern California during the late '60s, premiering his works "The Candy-Apple Revision" and "Unspecified D-Flat Major Chord and Lirio" around the area. In 1970, he began a teaching career at the California Institute of Arts, but continued to compose while there, writing "Madrigals of the Rose Angel" in 1972.
After leaving the Institute in 1976, Budd gained a recording contract with the Brian Eno-affiliated EG Records, and released his debut album, The Pavilion of Dreams, in 1978. Two years later, he collaborated with Eno on one of the landmark albums of the ambient style, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirrors. After recording two albums for Cantil in 1981 (The Serpent [In Quicksilver]) and 1984 (Abandoned Cities), Budd again worked with Eno on 1984's The Pearl. A contract with Eno's Opal Records resulted in one of Budd's most glorious albums, The White Arcades, recorded in Edinburgh with Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. Budd left Opal after 1991's By the Dawn's Early Light, and recorded two albums for Gyroscope: Music for 3 Pianos (with Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz) and the lauded Through the Hill, a collaboration with Andy Partridge of XTC. In the mid-'90s, he recorded albums for New Albion and All Saints before signing to Atlantic for the release of The Room in mid-2000.
In 2004, Budd decided to retire, claiming he had said all he wanted to, and that he "didn't mind disappearing." His "final" outing, Avalon Sutra/As Long as I Can See My Breath, appeared on David Sylvian's Samhadi Sound imprint as a double disc. The album featured 14 new pieces, some recorded solo, some recorded with saxophonist Jon Gibson, and some with a string quartet. Budd apparently changed his mind about retirement and his collaboration with Eraldo Bernocchi, Fragments from the Inside, issued on Sub Rosa, arrived in the spring of 2005. Back to composing and recording, Budd signed to Darla in late 2007. He began working with producer Clive Wright that same year. In October 2008, a collaboration with Clive Wright entitled Song for Lost Blossoms was released by Darla Records. It includes recordings that were done live and in-studio at different locations, including both artists' homes. The album features some of their work done together between 2004 and 2006. A second collaborative effort with Wright, Candylion followed in 2009, again on Darla Records.
Darla Records released a CD album by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd in February 2011 entitled Bordeaux, recorded in the summer of 2010 in Bordeaux, France and mixed in Guthrie's studio, in Rennes, France. Rare Noise Records released a CD album by Eraldo Bernocchi, Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie in November 2011 entitled Winter Garden, recorded in the summer of 2010 in Tuscany, Italy and mixed in Guthrie's studio, in Rennes, France. It was announced that Harold Budd will appear as one of the featured composer/performers at San Francisco's Other Minds festival in March, 2012. Bandits of Stature was released that same year, in 2013 Budd came through with Jane 1-11 both released on Darla Records
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This 63-minute album is a compilation of earlier efforts by Harold Budd, it comprises the 6-track album "The serpent in quicksilver" (1981) as well as two very long tracks which were intended as soundtrack material for an installation. "TSIQ" features six mostly short pieces with Budd's sparse piano playing, ranging from melancholy to colourful and vivid. "Afar" has a nice pedal steel guitar and reminds me of Brian Eno's soundtrack "Apollo". "Children on the hill" is the highlight of this album, it offers a beautiful but very complex melody and manages to hold the listener's interest till the end. The title track is an effective mix of electric and acoustic piano textures, with occasional help by organ and bass. Compared to Budd's later 'high-tech' albums like "The white arcades", "TSIQ" seems somewhat unsophisticated and simple, yet it's an demonstration of Budd's songwriting talents and does contain a few good pieces.
The 20-minute "Dark star" and the 23-minute "Abandoned cities" are two more experimental compositions. "Dark star" is a surprisingly sinister and menacing piece with powerful, processed guitar chords and ominous synth textures which lend a nightmarish feel to the music. "Abandonedcities" is much calmer and relaxing, but it has a stronger environmental feel, thanks to some meandering drones which sound like a circling aeroplane. Budd is joined here by Gene Bowen, who provides "ambient" power chords on his guitar. Against the strange, distorted rumble of the Stratocaster, Budd provides melancholy, twinkling piano notes and runs. Like an impending storm on a hot desert day, something you can feel but can't quite pin down--quiet now, but something's coming...
Harold Budd - The Serpent (In Quicksilver) / Abandoned Cities (flac 262mb)
The Serpent (In Quicksilver)
01 Afar 2:29
02 Wanderer 4:12
03 Rub With Ashes 1:54
04 Children On The Hill 5:02
05 Widows Charm 1:58
06 The Serpent (In Quicksilver) 4:03
07 Dark Star 19:45
08 Abandoned Cities 23:00
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On the short-lived moment when Warner Bros. was distributing Opal records, this Harold Budd album probably reached more people than his previous work combined. One can hope so, at least. This album shows Budd at his most stylistically pure: nine pieces that rarely shift from their piano and synth instrumentation, all treated with much echo and coloration. Budd is after beauty, not menace, but with the mystery that follows it. From the pulse of "Coyote" to the grand thunder and rolling clouds of "Balthus Bemused By Color," this is a solid album, one for thinking, studying, or whatever one does when the ambient comes.
Harold Budd - The White Arcades (flac 174mb)
01 The White Arcades 4:38
02 Balthus Bemused By Color 5:12
03 The Child With A Lion 6:35
04 The Real Dream Of Sails 6:02
05 Algebra Of Darkness 6:28
06 Totems Of The Red–Sleeved Warrior 3:20
07 The Room 3:03
08 Coyote 2:04
09 The Kiss 3:21
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Where most new age composers go for the obvious (and sometimes saccharine) melody, Budd veers off into ambiguity; he also lacks the mystical bent that often goes along with the new age style. Instead, his compositional voice is more like that of a detached observer -- one who creates beauty without getting too involved with it.
By the Dawn's Early Light finds Budd writing for various combinations of viola, guitar, harp, and keyboards. There is an irony inherent to the title, the National Anthem overtones contrasted with the genocide of the Native American populations, a significant inspirational well from which this work was drawn. Budd, who grew up in the Mojave, knows how to generate an effectively sparse, time-before-time ambience. All of the music is lovely, but not all of the compositions sound complete. In several cases, they sound like raw ideas rushed into the studio before their time. Guitarist Bill Nelson provides much of the interest throughout the album, and the sighing, slithery viola of Mabel Wong lends an occasional turn-of-the-century salon feel to the proceedings. The only really embarrassing moments occur when Budd -- whose voice sounds like an unfortunate cross between Garrison Keillor and Kermit the Frog -- reads his own poetry.
Harold Budd - By The Dawn's Early Light (flac 208mb)
01 Poem: Aztec Hotel 1:33
02 Boy About Ten 4:59
03 Arcadia 2:00
04 Dead Horse Alive With Flies 3:40
05 The Photo Of Santiago McKinn 6:55
06 The Corpse At The Shooting Gallery 2:57
07 Albion Farewell (Homage To Delius, For Gavin Bryars) 2:38
08 Poem: Distant Lights Of Olancha Recede 1:27
09 Down The Slopes To The Meadow (For Ruben Garcia) 7:39
10 She Dances By The Light Of The Silvery Moon 2:03
11 Blind Bird 2:12
12 Saint's Name Spoken 3:59
13 The Place Of Dead Roads 4:49
14 A Child In A Sylvan Field 3:36
15 Boy About 10 1:18
16 Wings 0:37
17 No Name 0:55
18 Advent 0:49
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