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Harold Budd

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Harold Budd Harold Budd & Brian Eno: The Pearl album cover
3.91 | 66 ratings | 8 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Late October (4:42)
2. A Stream With Bright Fish (3:56)
3. The Silver Ball (3:30)
4. Against The Sky (4:53)
5. Lost In The Humming Air (4:23)
6. Dark-Eyed Sister (4:40)
7. Their Memories (2:27)
8. The Pearl (1:13)
9. Foreshadowed (3:54)
10. An Echo Of Night (2:27)
11. Still Return (4:14)

Total Time 42:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Harold Budd / piano
- Brian Eno / performer, treatments, co-producer

- Daniel Lanois / co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Christina Birrer (photo)

LP Editions EG ‎- EGED 37 (1984, US)

CD Virgin ‎- EEGCD 37 (1984, UK)
CD Editions EG ‎- EEGCD 37 (1987, US)
CD Virgin ‎- ENOCD 13 (2005, Europe) Remastered by Simon Heyworth

Thanks to silentman for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HAROLD BUDD Harold Budd & Brian Eno: The Pearl ratings distribution

(66 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HAROLD BUDD Harold Budd & Brian Eno: The Pearl reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars A beautiful, relaxing example of Eno's ambient style, yet one that spawned legions of horrible New Age composers.

There is not really much to say about the album. It is a series of gentle, minimalist piano pieces with just the barest hint of synthesizers that lull the listener into a passive, dreamlike state. The piano is pretty and all, but I think the real star here is the production, and that is what separates this release from its imitators.

As a Producer, Eno creates this magnificent sense of space. You can practically hear the music breathe as the sustained tones shimmer off into the distance. A virtual playground for the imagination, and a wonderful experience if you're into that kind of thing.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars OK, let's face it. "The Pearl" is the same thing as Harold Budd and Brian Eno's previous album as a team, "Ambient 2:The Plateaux Of Mirror", and you can barely hear the difference between songs from different albums. A disappointment? Not if you like "Ambient 2", but in a way, it is anyway.

If there is a difference, we can find it in the style of the music; while "The Plateaux Of Mirror" had a little bit of electric piano and tons of arrangements, in "The Pearl" the electric piano is the main character, and the arrangements by Eno are put in the background.

Another thing we can find of original is "the trip"; "The Plateaux Of Mirror" was like walking through a cold, rural landscape, here the scenery seems to be more opened: it could feel like your gazing at a beach at nighttime, or looking at a pale grey sky, or even in a dense fog. But the album is, in my opinion, obviously covered in a cloudy and at the same time dark light, that makes the songs here at times truly great.

In fact, some songs here are really amazing; "A Stream Of Bright Fish", "Against The Sky", Lost In The Humming Air", the title track, and the final "Still Return" have moments that are truly unforgettable. Too bad that the rest doesn't get at all to the same levels.

In conclusion, despite this album has a few good songs, the fact that it's practically identical to "Ambient 2" makes me give this 3.5 stars, also due to those couple of songs that never really appealed to me.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The followup to The Plateaux of Mirror sees Harold Budd and Brian Eno once more creating ambient soundscapes structured around Budd's minimalistic piano playing. As before, the focus is on Budd performing on the piano whilst Eno's production and sound treatments creates an evocative sonic environment for it; this time around, the formula is spiced up by guest musician Daniel Lanois, whose occasional gentle guitar interventions steer things towards similar territory as his earlier collaboration with Eno and Roger Eno, Apollo. Blowing most of the New Age competition out of the water with ease, the album is a real treat for all fans of Eno's ambient work.
Review by Dobermensch
5 stars Despite it's unassuming title 'The Pearl' does indeed live up to the high praise heaped upon it. Dreamy, and good medicine for these dark days in the west where everything seems to be falling apart at the seems.

This is a heavily piano dominated album, but it's a piano permanently loaded with delay, creating a ghostlike atmosphere - almost like a house that has been uninhabited for 50 years.

The 11 short tracks are very well conceived where Budd wisely realises that lengthy ones aint gonna cut the mustard. They are made all the more memorable due to the influence of Brian Eno. One of the greatest talents Eno had was not overshadowing the artists he worked with and unlike the equally high scoring but mostly soundscapey 'On Land' by Eno, 'The Pearl' wins hands down due to the fact that each tune is entirely memorable and actually carries a melody.

'The Pearl' is basically a sequel to the wonderful but colder 'Plateaux of Mirror' released four years earlier. This however, sounds even more haunting but carries more tunes at the same time. It's also a much clearer recording and each track appears to be inhabited by spectres.

Quite simply 'The Pearl' is perfect. It's ethereal rather than classical. Earthy more than electronic, and possibly my second favourite album of all time next to 'Within the Realm' by 'Dead Can Dance'.

Brian Eno, as on many of his collaborations is the unseen genius that raises this album way above the status it would have had otherwise. You only have to listen to solo Harold Budd to realise his shortcomings. His solo albums were far more staid and static. 'The Pearl' flows beautifully - like a stream. Eno adds things on so many subliminal levels which at first aren't realised, but seem to blossom like ever more colourful flowers each time you hear this album. He, in my mind, is what elevates this to 5 stars.

A drifting, sometimes sombre but unpretentious and angelic recording which sounds like No Man's Land in the Somme in 1916 after the slaughter.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars The second collaboration album from stalwarts of ambient Harold Budd and Brian Eno, is in my opinion a massive improvement over their previous release together because of an increased sense of sincerity.

The Pearl is similar in tone to its predecessor, The Plateaux of Mirror, providing heartbreakingly beautiful piano-based ambient soundscapes accompanied by subtle synth textures that sound as round and shiny as the album's title would lead anyone to believe. Fortunately, there is a huge improvement on this album; instead of Eno's pearly synth textures being add-ons to the sound of the minimalist piano, this time around they work more as a separate instrument providing a colorful, ethereal picture for the piano to dance across. In addition, the synth is much much thicker than before, creating an all- consuming aquatic aural density that washes over the entire album that provides a canvas for free-thought and blissful transcendence, which is helped along even more with the added natural sound effects of various birds of the sea. Something else that The Pearl manages to accomplish over its predecessor is an emotional neutrality, but is sincere in its beauty to the point that it would work well with either happiness or sadness depending on what mood is desired by the listener. Instead of being either all sad or all happy, romantic or lonely, it hits a middle ground that can become what you want it to be -- like a lover who will gladly listen to you rant about your achievements or hug and weep with you in a period of hopelessness.

Being an album based on two minimalist properties that remain at a single tone and atmosphere, the tracks on this album are surprisingly compositionally varied. Some tracks are more piano-based, some more synth-based. Sometimes acoustic piano takes the lead and sometimes it's an electric piano. Eno's picturesque soundscapes occasionally die down to a light misty effect and sometimes they are so dense and echoed it's like being submerged in the clearest of seas. Since this is an ambient album, it is because of these variations that make this album much more enjoyable than many of the stagnant ambient albums that don't offer any engaging alterations and provide the listener only with an hour of boredom. Regardless of the specifics in each track, The Pearl maintains a deeply contemplative atmosphere that runs all throughout its runtime, perfect for anyone who already is or hopes to be in "a mood".

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars I find the two Harold Budd/Brian Eno collaborations fascinating in that I enjoy both a good deal when I'm listening to them but struggle to articulate why I like them. This is especially interesting to me given that, for the most part, I tend to find more to dig out of ambient albums than many people do, both for albums that I like more than these and for albums that I like a good deal less. As on Ambient 2, this album is built around Budd playing rather sparse fragments of piano melodies, with Eno adding some embellishments through his production tricks and some nature sounds (this one also features Daniel Lanois helping out with production). Some of the tracks manage to evoke imagery consistent with their titles; for instance, "Late October" is a perfect soundtrack for walking from the train in the evening around that time, "A Stream with Bright Fish" has contrast between a droning underpinning (the stream) and bright flittery piano (the fish), and "An Echo of Night" somewhat calls back to some of the Apollo material. A lot of this, though, seems like it could have had any title attached to it and things would have been fine. I actually don't mind this very much; perhaps more here than with any of Eno's first-generation (roughly through Thursday Afternoon) ambient projects, this album is a series of Rorschach blots, and while the tracks don't tend to evoke something specific, they all definitely evoke something.

This sort of description may make this album sound like it's unbearable, or at best something along on the lines of Thursday Afternoon, which works as a catalyst for improving one's feeling of well-being but does little else. This comparison would be grossly unfair, if only because (a) the themes in the various tracks are pretty engrossing when they're on, and (b) the presence of 11 separate tracks forces some sense of variety into the album despite the consistent minimalist instrumentation. These are tracks that one experiences in a way that improves one's life in the moment (not in a "cheering up" sort of way, since the album's actually somewhat morose in tone, but definitely in an "adding depth" sort of way) but leaves little trace once it's gone, like a particularly enriching dream that fades into obscurity upon waking up. Even if you don't remember the dream, though, you remember that the dream was a good one, and likewise this album always leaves me glad that I listened to it (or to individual tracks from it that pop up when I'm using shuffle). If you liked Ambient 2, you'll probably like this just about as much.

Latest members reviews

5 stars "The Pearl" is a perfect example of background music. There's little diversity on the album as it all follows pretty-much the same formula: Budd on Piano, Eno doing his ambient- droney thing with Daniel Lanois giving the whole sound a lot of room to breathe. Listening to it as music will get ... (read more)

Report this review (#96819) | Posted by coldsun | Thursday, November 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Beautiful and gorgeous. The music has a less "soundscape" style to it and is more structured (probably due to the piano). Simple chords introduce every track before the piano starts playing a hunting and beautiful melody. Every single song from this album create a calm, enchanting atmosphere a ... (read more)

Report this review (#64039) | Posted by | Tuesday, January 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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