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Harold Budd - The Serpent (In Quicksilver)/Abandoned Cities CD (album) cover


Harold Budd

Progressive Electronic

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5 stars This is one of those albums that is a prime example of why you shouldn't get rid of an album if it doesn't click with you at first. I picked this one up used because I really liked Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror. I think I listened to it once and basically let it gather dust for a while. Then I took it on a vacation road trip down to the Tampa area. My girlfriend, at the time, was laying down to sun herself on the beach and I popped this one in my portable CD and went for a walk on the beach. The first track Afar just totally worked. The pedal steel guitar in that one has a kind of Hawaiian feel to it. The rest of the tracks for the first set are really great for letting your mind wander. On a nice warm day outside walking on the bay beach the first tracks really complement the experience.

I played Dark Star and Abandoned Cities sitting out in a chair at the water's edge of the Gulf Of Mexico outside our hotel room and again. It totally fit in with the place I was at. After that Harold Budd moved from this guy who worked with Eno to someone I had explore further and I haven't been disappointed.

Report this review (#441012)
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars The Serpent (In Quicksilver)/Abandoned Cities is, as the title implies, a compilation that consists of Harold Budd's incredible exploration into dark, depressing loneliness with a considerably vast atmosphere with a collection of tracks that meld together the minimalist piano style with the deep atmospheric ambience called The Serpent (In Quicksilver).

I've already reviewed Abandoned Cities, so I'm going to focus mostly on the other portion of this album.

The Serpent is piano-based minimalism, much like the classic The Plateaux of Mirror, but is a bit more fleshed out than the term minimalism would cause people to expect. The compositions themselves are short but contain more movement, and they also have a much thicker atmosphere that is comparable to a slightly toned down version of the style used on the album that accompanies this release. In addition to this, the piano seems to mostly be played in a lower register. Despite all of these changes to Harold Budd's minimalist piano style, there really isn't much in the way of interesting music here. There is not much for the listener to grab onto and the compositions themselves are kind of bland and don't really establish any kind of emotion. The combination of minimalist piano and gloomy ambient soundscapes sound like it would work perfectly, on paper, but the idea isn't really thought out entirely. Also, some of these tracks sound very goofy and dated, such as the title track that sounds like something that would be played in a cheap spa, and "Afar" is like a boring ambient country track that is more aggravating than soothing and based around piercing lap-steel guitar.

The Serpent (In Quicksilver)/Abandoned Cities is a very uneven and inconsistent compilation, consisting of an emotional classic album paired with a collection of throw-away B- sides that hold absolutely no weight and provide nothing except barely soothing piano-based minimalist aimlessness. I'd only suggest this album to someone who doesn't already own Abandoned Cities, because the extra tracks might be worth the small amount of extra money depending on how much the listener could potentially enjoy them, but definitely are not worth the price of buying this compilation for those tracks alone.

Report this review (#643684)
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2012 | Review Permalink

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