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HAROLD BUDD

Progressive Electronic • United States


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Harold Budd biography
Harold Budd is a contemporary artist initially formed in jazz and improvised music. He is also a piano player. He first started his career in the 1970 as a professor at California Institute of Arts. He signed his first album on Brian Eno Obscure label. After a successful collaboration with Brian Eno in «Ambient 2: Plateaux of mirrors» (1980) and in «The Pearl» (1983) he made a name in ambient space music. His long colourful soundscapes feature dense floating synthesised waves, contemporary neo-classical harmonies (using various acoustic / traditional instruments) and acousmatic sonorities. By reference to visual art, his music can also be described as abstract expressionist minimalism.

Harold Budd official website

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Moon & MelodiesMoon & Melodies
4ad / Ada 1999
Audio CD$8.54
$2.99 (used)
The RoomThe Room
Atlantic 2011
Audio CD$12.19
$3.13 (used)
PerhapsPerhaps
Root Strata 2013
Audio CD$12.57
$54.99 (used)
Lovely ThunderLovely Thunder
Editions Eg Records 1990
Audio CD$8.97 (used)
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2h 34m
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HAROLD BUDD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HAROLD BUDD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 20 ratings
The Pavilion of Dreams
1978
3.92 | 56 ratings
Ambient 2 - The Plateaux Of Mirror (with Brian Eno)
1980
3.91 | 46 ratings
The Pearl (with Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois)
1984
4.31 | 14 ratings
Abandoned Cities
1984
3.93 | 11 ratings
Lovely Thunder
1986
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Moon and the Melodies (with Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie & Simon Raymonde)
1986
3.53 | 9 ratings
The White Arcades
1988
2.12 | 4 ratings
By The Dawn's Early Light
1991
2.22 | 4 ratings
She Is A Phantom
1994
2.09 | 3 ratings
Through The Hill (with Andy Partridge)
1994
2.21 | 5 ratings
Agua
1995
4.00 | 5 ratings
Luxa
1996
3.96 | 6 ratings
Glyph (With Hector Zazou)
1996
3.03 | 5 ratings
The Room
2000
2.22 | 4 ratings
Translucence - Drift Music
2003
3.97 | 4 ratings
La Bella Vista
2003
2.42 | 7 ratings
Avalon Sutra - As Long as I Can Hold My Breath
2005
3.95 | 3 ratings
Music for 'Fragments from the Inside'
2005
2.27 | 2 ratings
Mysterious Skin - Music from the Film
2005
3.09 | 2 ratings
before the day breaks
2007
3.02 | 3 ratings
after the night falls
2007
4.00 | 2 ratings
A Song for Lost Blossoms
2008
2.67 | 3 ratings
Candylion
2009
3.00 | 1 ratings
Little Windows
2010
3.00 | 1 ratings
In the Mist
2011
3.09 | 4 ratings
Bordeaux (with Robin Guthrie)
2011

HAROLD BUDD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Perhaps
2007

HAROLD BUDD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HAROLD BUDD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.51 | 5 ratings
The Serpent (In Quicksilver)/Abandoned Cities
1984

HAROLD BUDD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
The Serpent (In Quicksilver)
1981

HAROLD BUDD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Abandoned Cities by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.31 | 14 ratings

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Abandoned Cities
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Of the Harold Budd releases and collaborations I've heard, I think Abandoned Cities constitutes the most unusual and uncharacteristic. Consisting of two side-long dark ambient soundscapes, Budd's minimalistic piano playing is more or less entirely absent from the album, leaving in its place a haunting electronic evocation of total desolation. At points, its slow, ponderous rumbles border on full-on drone territory. It compares favourably to similarly glacial predecessors such as Tangerine Dream's Zeit, and may be an eye-opening experience for any listener who only knows Harold Budd as that guy who collaborated with Brian Eno and the Cocteau Twins and plays a real purty piano.
 The Moon and the Melodies (with Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie & Simon Raymonde) by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Moon and the Melodies (with Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie & Simon Raymonde)
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Not presented or promoted as a Budd/Cocteau Twins collaboration, but don't let that fool you: The Moon and the Melodies is basically a Cocteau Twins EP and a Harold Budd ambient EP used at the hip. Where Elizabeth Frasher's vocals are present, it sounds like a fairly second-tier Cocteau Twins matter; where they are absent, it more resembles a series of ambient pieces with great production and with the Cocteau Twins backing Budd up. Not the best release by any of the participants concerned, but it's an interesting release which fans of the Cocteaus will probably want to take a listen to eventually.
 The Serpent (In Quicksilver) by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1981
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Serpent (In Quicksilver)
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars This brief EP followed hot on the heels of Budd's seminal collaboration with Brian Eno, the Plateaux of Mirror, and continues in a similar ambient style focused on Budd's minimalist piano playing. Mostly ambient in nature, the main distinction between it and the album it followed is the more or less total lack of any sound treatments or other production tricks, leaving Budd's playing naked and exposed to the listener without any chicanery. The end result is perfectly pleasant to listen to, with the occasional unexpected turn. (Very rarely I hear a slight jazzy air creeping into Budd's playing, reminiscent perhaps of Hatfield and the North's Dave Stewart on a massive dose of sedatives.)
 In the Mist by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.00 | 1 ratings

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In the Mist
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Harold Budd's year 2011 album presents yet another collection of ambient piano improvisations, but as usual with Budd the layers go far deeper than what first meets the ear. The album's thirteen tracks were organized into three arbitrary sections (sorry: movements) titled "The Whispers"; "Gunfighters"; and "Shadows", the last act being a set of understated string quartet arrangements, with no piano within earshot.

Unfortunately, the sudden shift away from the composer's primary instrument upsets the delicate balance of sound. A Harold Budd album works better with Budd actually performing on it, and when he does the impact (as here) can be spellbinding, in an almost subliminal sort of way.

The music is more effective when it grows more repetitive. Listen to "The Foundry" or to "The Art of Mirrors", the latter a kindred spirit of Brian Eno's "Music For Airports", evoking the empty passenger terminal after all flights were grounded in heavy fog. Budd has always been a master of sonic manipulation, and for these sessions his keyboard was muted thick enough to resemble an unplugged electric guitar, or else gently warped (in "The Foundry", and elsewhere) to suggest the sound of old vinyl on a malfunctioning turntable.

That subtle distortion might have been an accident of the recording process Budd decided to keep. The effect barely registers above a subconscious level, but it artfully subverts the serenity of the music and removes it from any suggestion of New Age superficiality. Ditto the sound of something like discreetly jangling cowboy spurs, in the Gunfighters title "Greek George": High Noon in the Mojave Desert sagebrush of Budd's childhood.

Minimalism doesn't always equate to meditative, and despite the overwhelming aura of calm the album will reward active listening, with a little effort. This is music that requires the right environment to blossom inside a listener's mind: the perfect convergence of weather, temperature, mood, and lack of background distraction. If any one condition isn't optimal the whole thing can come across as empty pretense. But even when it isn't working, Budd's piano technique is typically so quiet it can't help but hold your attention.

 The White Arcades by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.53 | 9 ratings

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The White Arcades
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mostly inspired, partly forgettable, around 75% of 'The White Arcades' is as near to perfect ambience as you could wish for.

Once again it took Brian Eno to squeeze out that extra creativity and statuesque sound that is sadly missing from a lot of Harold Budd's purely solo outings. Eno engineered this recording, but his presence is more prominent than that might suggest.

This was mostly recorded in Edinburgh of all places - not a city renowned for ambient music by any stretch of the imagination. This was through his connections with 'The Cocteau Twins' of whom he has had a long and fruitful relationship with guitarist Robin Guthrie.

Recorded at the ripe old age of 51 'The White Arcades' starts with the best tune on the album - it's self titled and displays a sense of foreboding. Cold and icy, delicately drifting textures punctuated by slightly piercing piano which act as rays of light above the bleak backdrop of foggy electronics.

It's not always this good... 'Real Dream of Sails' is a 6 minute piece which has old Harold pottering about aimlessly as droning keyboards flail like sails on a yacht. It doesn't really lead anywhere and sounds improvised.

He always sounds best when using huge delay on his piano. This he does on 'the Algebra of Darkness'. This could easily have appeared on it's predecessor 'Lovely Thunder' which is a bit darker than 'The White Arcades'. It does drag on a bit though.

'Totems of the Red Sleeved Warrior' enters the realms of miserableness but is all the better for it as floating long drawn out keyboard chords leave you contemplating beautiful thoughts or reminding you of the last funeral you attended. Eno is at large on this piece.

The boring track 'Room' is followed by the majestic 'Coyote' as that piercing Erik Satie piano takes centre stage. And the lovely outro 'The Kiss' sees things off to a nice conclusion with a pretty tune played yet again on piano as soft keyboards wash quietly in the background.

For old times sake I'm giving this 4 stars. It was one of the first ever cd's I bought in 1988 whilst still a sniveling art college student. It cost me big bucks back then and to this day it still sounds fresh and bright.

I just wish I could remember who once said: 'Sometimes I'm happy being sad'

 The Pearl (with Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois) by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.91 | 46 ratings

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The Pearl (with Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois)
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

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.

 The Pavilion of Dreams by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.52 | 20 ratings

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The Pavilion of Dreams
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A conflict of interests.

In "Pavilion of Dreams" recorded in 1976, later released in 1978, Harold Budd's second known "solo" release, (his first "The Oak of the Golden Dreams / Coeur D'Orr, 1970 is missing in this page), harbored himself with, what was known in 1976 as "new age", top notch fellow musicians, Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman, both as Budd, still active up to this day.

So what went wrong, as not to have achieved something, music-wise, far more "genial"?

The borders of, call it : "easy listenng", "new age" or "ambient" music , are kind of fragile but demanding. The musical structure has to respect those limits, in order to keep its goals. But as many "new agers" found out eventually, it is at the same time, a limited field of action, when it comes to the "colors" you are allowed to do with or as Brian Eno quotes: "Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting".

And sadly this effort is more ignorable, than interesting. It focuses on to many directions, but it does not really propose something new on none. Most of the setting of its moods, are "tingly" and "sparkly", the kind of sweet solutions, to a somewhat limited palette. The best is Marion Brown's saxophone lines, which remind me of John Coltrane's "super cool" long sax lines in the early 60's. The rest of the music relies to much on this kind of overly-sweet surfaces, that more than once are just plain mellow (or quiet uninteresting). The choral song ""Madrigals of the Rose Angel: 1. Rossetti Noise / 2. The Crystal Garden and a Coda", is the 5 star song, although it also suffers, the "twinkling" effect of the be it, glockenspiel, piano, celeste or harp, obsessively appearing everywhere.

Harold Budd eventually evolved, but here he is just gathering the pieces of his eventual and future musical "ambient" language.

***3 good, "promising" and that is it, PA stars

 Ambient 2 - The Plateaux Of Mirror (with Brian Eno) by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.92 | 56 ratings

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Ambient 2 - The Plateaux Of Mirror (with Brian Eno)
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The mere concept and achievement of these first 4 declared Brian Eno "AMBIENT" albums deserves 4 Progarchive stars. The bending of the "ambient" language to all possible, Eno wise, structures and the charisma of getting others in the boat, is just like that, full of merit.

If not as musician involved directly Eno worked as producer only inAmbient 3: "Day of Radiance". by a then, not yet "discovered", talented composer who called himself : Laraaji. As a producer as he did with others in all kinds of music fields. (Ultravox another good example).

This "Ambient 2 - The Plateaux Of Mirror (with Brian Eno) OR Brian Eno "Ambient 2 - The Plateaux Of Mirror" (with Harold Budd) has the kind of who owns the work "biz" hassle, it even has two different cover artworks .

Anyway I would not go deeper into that matter.

The music in this "ambient" is a very good example of how, average piano melodies, which are rich and melodical, but without getting that "easy-sweet" mood, can construct environments, without being protagonic and lead to a perfect transfiguration to unorthodox or non average -piano structures without stop sounding like piano pieces. Amazing!

Mr. Budd can be accused of "over-sweetening" some of his work, but in this work, both members, hold each other tightly and at watch, therefore this communion of minds becomes an undivisible unit in constant awareness of the fact that if they move away from the objective, the magic will dissolve as dust.

Great considering also, that this is not a one hour composition but a different songs one hour album that aims to get the naked "non-corny serious side of piano playing" into a different sonic environment , plus the alway lavish touch of Mr, Eno's well known recording/producing antics... What else can I say. ..

****4 PA stars.

 after the night falls by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.02 | 3 ratings

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after the night falls
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Essentially a "part two" of the previous album, but with no new statements to make.

Before the Day Breaks was a decent album that proved that Harold Budd still knew how to create emotionally evocative ambient music, and Robin Guthrie's ethereal guitar tone added a little bit of variety when compared to Budd's back-catalog, even if the individual arrangements and the album as a whole had that stagnant "oh, this sounds like Harold Budd" aura. However, finishing up the first Budd/Guthrie duology (minus the soundtrack work) with After the Night Falls adds absolutely nothing new to their formula.

The mood on this album is slightly less of a gloomy overcast and more of a quiet, contemplative one. Though this is a difference in sound from the previous album, it's not very significant at all -- the compositions, though dreamy and ambient, more or less sound nearly identical to what was done before on Before the Day Breaks.

The drifting keyboards and guitars heavily effected with reverb weaving between dense ambient soundscapes are undoubtedly beautiful, which is an adjective that almost always appropriately describes Harold Budd's music, but there is absolutely nothing engaging about this album at all. So, background music? Yes, but it's not even very interesting in that respect either. Though the compositions on the previous album had some real feeling to them, these compositions never develop within themselves of within the context of the entire album's duration. The previous collaboration between these two musicians had two standout tracks, but I can detect none on this album, and it seems like this duo have finally run out of worthy ideas.

I really wanted to like this album considering that Before the Day Breaks showed some real promise, and the soundtrack to Mysterious Skin released before it showed even more promise. Unfortunately, After the Night Falls shows that promise breaking down and falling away. Following this album, Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie decided to take a break from each other for a few years, which I honestly have to say was probably the right call to make.

 before the day breaks by BUDD, HAROLD album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.09 | 2 ratings

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before the day breaks
Harold Budd Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Following Mysterious Skin, Harold Budd decided to again work with Robin Guthrie on a couple more albums, that are fairly similar to the former.

Before the Day Breaks follows in the same ambient vein as its soundtrack predecessor album, consisting of distant ambient keyboard, twangy clean-toned guitar picking, and floating ambient synths that consume the background while the two main instruments weave their sound within, creating an ambient style that is essentially extremely chilled out post-rock sans percussion and crescendos, and it kind of all sounds better that way.

The atmosphere created on Before the Day Breaks is very depressing, which I've always considered Harold Budd to be good at. The mood created here is very similar to that of The Room albeit a bit more dense as a result of slightly expanded instrumentation. Whereas The Room creates guided imagery of an empty room that overlooks a scene of beauty affected by some type of perpetual gloom, this album rather creates guided imagery of an abandoned house that has been left in ruins, but the past beauty of the construct is inherently obvious from the size of the lot and the overgrown garden in the field behind, and this is the soundtrack to traversing the ruins and assimilating the decrepit, mysterious environment.

Though, compared to Mysterious Skin, this album isn't varied much at all, even if the previous album also contained little variation. All of the songs tend to sound the same and, after the first few tracks, the differences between tracks seem to become less noticeable from sheer lack of interest. "Turn On the Moon" is the only track that stood out to me in the beginning because of it's light electronic beat that guides a gentle southern rock meets Goo Goo Dolls ballad type of guide melody, but overall is rather uninteresting. "She is My Weakness" eventually presented itself as a standout with it's odd staccato keyboard chords, but isn't necessarily a great song nor does it really add to my exaggerated atmospheric imagery.

But, compared to many artists in the ambient genre, Before the Day Breaks shows that Harold Budd remains more competent at the art of creating affecting atmospheres through the bare minimum of chord progressions that direct profoundly dense atmospheres than many other artists could dream of creating. Though there isn't any intense musicality to be impressed with here, it's a pleasant listening experience and an emotional journey if you allow it to be.

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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