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Harold Budd - The Room CD (album) cover

THE ROOM

Harold Budd

 

Progressive Electronic

3.04 | 5 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Harold Budd's year 2000 solo album is miles away from the sort of aural wallpaper usually associated with ambient instrumental music. Each of the dozen short pieces here describes a different interior landscape: "The Room of Stairs", "The Room of Mirrors", "The Room of Corners" and so forth, with a thirteenth performance simply titled "The Room" (you'll have to furnish it to your own taste).

Sometimes the titles are more evocative than the music itself ("The Room of Forgotten Children"), but each space is constructed from a similar blueprint of intuitive keyboard improvisations, usually treated with a shimmering aura of atmospheric electronics. The results span from the beautiful ("The Room of Oracles") to the banal ("The Flowered Room", leaning uncomfortably close to New Age muzak), with the best selections featuring the composer alone at his acoustic piano (in "The Room Obscured", and elsewhere).

Harold Budd has always been a champion of minimalism, not unlike his occasional collaborator and kindred spirit Brian Eno. But for an artist of such obvious taste and sensitivity minimal doesn't mean simplistic, and there's more depth to these fragmentary sketches than first meets the ear. Notice the subtle current of unease beneath the otherwise peaceful chords of "The Room of Ancillary Dreams", or the unspoken drama of the title track.

That trademark sense of space and distance is no doubt a reflection of Budd's upbringing in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. If Erik Satie had grown up in Barstow instead of 19th century Paris, his "Trois Gnossiennes" might have sounded a lot like this. Thematically the music is bound by the four walls of each imaginary room. But in truth the album provides an ideal background for contemplating empty skies and distant horizons.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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