Harold Budd

Wind in Lonely Fences: 1970-2011

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This double-disc compilation by composer Harold Budd is a companion piece to All Saints Records' Buddbox, a seven-disc overview of his recordings from the 1980s and '90s, as well as stand-alone limited-edition pressings of The Serpent (In Quicksilver) from 1981; Abandoned Cities from 1984; and 1994's Through the Hill, a collaborative album with XTC frontman Andy Partridge. Budd was originally influenced by both avant-garde composition from John Cage and the New York School -- i.e., Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, and Earle Brown et al. -- as well as free jazz, but ultimately rejected the formalism of the former and the aggression of the latter in favor of a musical path he dubbed "existential prettiness." The curation of this two-disc project for a man who has over 30 albums to choose from was no mean feat, but the material here elucidates the composer as a shadow figure of his own creation. It commences with 1970's "The Oak of the Golden Dreams," an 18-and-a-half-minute experimental, layered organ drone piece, and moves directly on to what is arguably his most beautiful composition, "Bismillahi 'Rrahman 'Rrahim," from Pavilion of Dreams, co-composed with Gavin Bryars and featuring a gorgeous alto saxophone solo by Marion Brown. The title cut comes from The Plateaux of Mirror, his very next offering, but couldn't be more different, though its darker, moodier sensibility is no less intimate. There are stops from albums as diverse as 1986's Moon and the Melodies with the Cocteau Twins; 1988's The White Arcades; two 1991 albums, By the Dawn's Early Light with Bill Nelson and Music for Three Pianos with Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz; 1994's She Is a Phantom with Zeitgeist; Luxa from 1996; Translucence with John Foxx from 2003; The Avalon Sutra with Jon Gibson from 2005; After Night Falls, a collaboration with Robin Guthrie in 2007; and finally the closer, "Mars and the Artist (After Cy Twombly)" from 2011's In the Mist. Though understandably by no means as thorough or as intricate as Buddbox, what's here presents the composer in his own refracted light, even when working hand in hand with others. Fans may argue as to what is included versus what was excluded here, but ultimately this is a perfect entry point in Budd's music for beginners, and a well-traveled reminder for longtime fans just how stubborn and single-minded his aesthetic is, no matter the context.

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