Harold Budd

(Website)

There are few people less interested in the past than composer Harold Budd. As in his music, he is completely committed to the current moment, the joy of discovery, the pleasure of wandering down a road with no expectation of where it might lead. And if that road goes absolutely nowhere, that’s fine, too.

Though his music doesn’t resemble jazz in any traditional sense, Harold’s dedication to improvisation is clearly cut from the same cloth, a by-product of his adolescent love for the form. But now, with more than 30 solo recordings and collaborations to his credit, he comes to view his space just so: ‘I think in my middle age, I’m so comfortable with my own language, and have been so for so many years, that the music just falls out of me. What I do is very gestural. It can’t be written down in advance, so it resembles jazz in that way.’

‘But I’m a composer, not a performer. They are two different worlds altogether. I’m not even really a proper pianist. I’m forced into playing the piano because no one else quite does it this way.’ And despite his penchant for letting things be as they want to be, ‘I always go into the studio really, really prepared. I have 9 or 10 months of notes. I invariably have the titles first, which dictate the general mood of a piece. I work very hard every day to pull it together, until it looks like a coherent whole. The minute I start it all changes, a different dynamic takes over and I just go in that direction.’
Since his early work with Brian Eno, who has described Budd’s music as ‘lonely’ (Harold doesn’t argue), Budd’s work has been called ‘minimalist,’ but that isn’t quite right. ‘I was never into classic minimalism, my brand came from a completely different ethic, partly (or largely?) because I was divorced from the NY art scene. I had my own particular West Coast version of that. I think minimalism isn’t quite accurate. Once I found out the syntax of my language, I saw it differently. In any case, the only interest I have in minimalism is when it’s architecture.’
In fact, Harold’s new album, ‘Avalon Sutra,’ on David Sylvian’s Samadhi Sound label is a complex work, with beautiful orchestrations. These include Budd’s first string quartet compositions in over 30 years, of which he is ‘shamelessly proud,’ and they were the impetus for the entire album. ‘Avalon Sutra’ began when he first saw, in person, Billy Al Bengston’s aluminum painting, ‘Three Faces West.’ The album also features the superb work of Budd’s longtime friend, Jon Gibson, who contributes saxes and bass flute.
In addition to his solo work, Harold has collaborated with many great musicians, including Eno, Cocteau Twins, Hector Zazou, Andy Partridge, and Daniel Lanois. He thinks of himself as ‘lucky to work with artists who I admire tremendously and can join in some pursuit that neither one of us would have thought up ourselves.’

Harold Budd’s most recent recordings can be found on Samahdi Sound (solo) and on Darla Records, two beautiful collaborations with Robin Guthrie (guitar).

Many thanks to Samahdi Sound

Albums

Nighthawks

Label: Edsel Records
Release date: July 20, 2011

Harold Budd, American pianist and poet and English artist John Foxx (ex. Ultravox, an adventurous musician, writer and photographer) have recorded a new album called “Nighthawks” featuring Ruben Garcia, now on release in the UK by Edsel Records… This has been packaged as part of a three disc set that also includes Budd’s and Foxx’ “Translucence + Drift Music”. Originally released as a double album and strongly influenced by the Budd, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois collaboration “The Pearl”, “Translucence + Drift Music” is one of the very great existing ambient albums. It was completely remastered for the reissue.

Harold Budd - Nighthawks

Bordeaux

Label: Darla
Release date: February 22, 2011

“Bordeaux”, a new album by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd; unquestionably the two masters of sonic beauty, minimalism and modern ambient. There is nothing better than an artist with a sound so completely original and unique unto himself that it is instantly recognizable. This gift is widely acknowledged to be one bestowed on both Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Budd. What’s even more significant, however, is how the signature style of each combine to create a complimentary union so rare and sublime. With the twin albums After The Night Falls and Before The Day Breaks released in 2006, Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Budd received acclaim without parallel. However, Bordeaux, recorded in the hazy Summer of 2010 in a studio near Bordeaux, France, has a further degree of elegance, poise and sheer breathtaking romance, which shows these two fine gentlemen at their best.

Harold Budd - Bordeaux

After the night falls

Label: Darla Records
Release date: July 16, 2007

Harold Budd - After the night falls

Before the day breaks

Label: Darla Records
Release date: July 16, 2007

Harold Budd - Before the day breaks

Avalon Sutra

Label: Universal
Release date: January 18, 2005

It’s hard to over-estimate the contribution Harold Budd has made to modern music, his seemingly effortless take on minimalism and ambience imbuing this often academic genre with all the warmth and humility so often missing from the work of his contemporaries. Best known for his collaborations with Brian Eno and the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, Budd seems to have reached equilibrium, announcing that this remarkable album (released on David Sylvian’s fledgling, impressive “Samadhi Sound” imprint) is to be his last recorded work. A more poignant, beautiful departure seems hard to imagine – what you get here are 14 immensely moving pieces, strewn with Budd’s effervescent Piano cascades and panoramic soundscapes, drifting off into sublime, almost unbearable nostalgia and reflection that are signposted with track titles that open the imagination up to nameless, fading memories.

Harold Budd - Avalon Sutra

A Song For Lost Blossoms

Label: Darla Records
Distribution in France: Darla Records

A new record of ambient melody and transcendental mood portals from minimalist/modernist master Harold Budd and friend guitarist/composer/producer Clive Wright. A Song For Lost Blossoms builds on both artist’s previous ambient work. The compositions were recorded live and in studio at different locations including the artist’s homes, at The Red Cat (Disney Concert Hall), Los Angeles, and Clive Wright’s Desert Sky Studio, Joshua Tree, CA. These recordings represent the very best of Harold and Clive’s work together over the period 2004 to 2006. Harold Budd’s works are the cornerstones of the modern minimal and ambient cannon. Clive Wright is a founding member of the platinum selling pop/rock band Cock Robin and has worked as writer, producer and guitarist with Kim Carnes, Human Drama, Tears for Fears members, Montell Jordan, The Black Eyed Peas and Peter Gabriel.

Harold Budd - A Song For Lost Blossoms