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Harold Budd - Abandoned Cities CD (album) cover

ABANDONED CITIES

Harold Budd

Progressive Electronic


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Sheavy
COLLABORATOR
Progressive Electronic Team
5 stars People are always saying that nothing good came out of the 80's, especially in the world of Prog. Well to put it simply. Lies. You just have to be willing to actual try to find new bands and artists that you like. I found out about Harold Budd through his collaborations with Brian Eno, who, I like but for me, Harold Budd's ambient worlds and pictures are much, much more enthralling. With Eno, his ambient music is truly ambient. It does not come to the forfront and always lingers somewhere in the background, while I am fine with this, it will never reach the height of masterpiece such as this work by Harold Budd right here. This is probably my favorite album I have come aross this year. The soundscapes this man has created are immense and captivating, hypnotic and throbbing with emotion and a almost feeling of isolationism, which goes along with the theme of this album about abondentment and a overall feeling of despair, without ever uttering a word.

WARNING: Somewhat off-topic, but this is but it is important for understanding my feelings on this album. One of my favorite pasttime hobbies is actually exploring abandoned buildings and other abandoned man-made structures. It is half about exploring these forgotten symbols and whatever went on inside of these buildings, and the other half photography. Well I went to a building with some friends not to long ago, one that I had been looking forward to going to, and happened to decide to bring this cd along and play it while in the building, since I had only really listened to it once and been very impressed. So when we arrived there at the building, which was an old coal breaker in the hills of Pennsylvania, we all started exploring the massive building ( which is about twelve stories tall and is mostly intact ), and I decided to play this on my Ipod. WOW. It was just incredible. The first track Dark Star just fits so amazingly well with the kind of feeling you get in a old building with only you around. The despairing guitar sounding note throughout this song just sends chills straight up your spine and I found myself almost unable to move from the beautiful background electronics against the sad guitar note. Abandoned City did not quite strike me in the same Dark Star did, but, it is a stellar track that also fits the mood of decay and despair that is so prevalent in old forgotten buildings that see nothing more than vandals, hobos, and the occasional people such as me and my friends. It is a feeling that is impossible to replicate while writing this, but wow. I have never been struck in such a way as this album has.

Without a doubt, get this. It is beautiful and sad, and should be something that is a mandatory listen. For me, this is hands down the best ambient record made.

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Send comments to Sheavy (BETA) | Report this review (#493227)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Following two minimalist and beautiful collaboration albums that are just short of being entirely boring, Harold Budd mostly loses the piano and instead opts for dense, dark, and murky long-form post-Berlin school electronic ambient tracks.

Gone are the electronic/acoustic piano impressionistic melodies that lead to nowhere, and gone are the aimless short-form compositions -- Abandoned Cities is an entirely different monster that looms over the listener like a post-apocalyptic dirge to psychological nothingness. I absolutely love when the overall mood and sound of an album is perfectly summed up within the album title, which is what this album has accomplished. This is a soundtrack to apprehensively walking from town to town and city to city only to observe that every area reached has long been entirely evacuated and the most lively entities in sight are the dark grey clouds that hang overhead like a blanket that appropriately colors the landscape in question with an ominous absence of light. In other words, this is kind of like a soundtrack to Silent Hill or Resident Evil games, minus the presence of the undead. Most similar to the scene in 28 Days Later where Cillian Murphy is walking through a mostly deserted London.

As far as significant progression goes, there isn't any on this album. Both tracks run at around 20 minutes, give or take, and are both sufficiently unhappy. "Darkstar" is dependent on a constant but subtly changing rumbling groan while powerful bursts of synth smash through and resonate for a few bars each, and a slightly hopeful wall of shimmering ambience occasionally fills the background, but the atmosphere never rises above being entirely unsettling. The title track is less heavy while maintaining the ominous synth dirge quality and is accompanied by very sparse use of texturally appropriate out-of-tune piano that sounds very lonely among the suffocating grey ambience surrounding it.

Even compared to Harold Budd's slow minimalist piano albums and his jazz- influenced debut, Abandoned Cities is such a slow moving album -- so slow, in fact, that I'm sure most people who are not too much into ambient will get sick of it after the first 3 minutes of each track, considering that each track is basically the same melody and atmosphere repeated for about 20 minutes with only subtle background element changes to add tension to the overall composition. However, fans of ambient music or music that generally makes you want to cry and bask in loneliness (whether it be real or imagined) will find much to enjoy (?) about this album. Abandoned Cities is for sure one of Harold Budd's most emotionally satisfying works.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#643680)
Posted Thursday, March 01, 2012 | Review Permalink

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