Few musicians can rightfully be called Masters, but Harold Budd is definitely a master of his craft. For nearly three decades, he has produced some of the gentlest, prettiest piano music of the Twentieth Century. He is a master of ambient piano; his melodies are simple, yet they say so much in saying nothing. His compositional style is so basic and so minimalist, you might mistakenly think you could do what he does. You can't. I have been infatuated with his music for two decades, and in that time, he has yet to produce a bad record. The simple charm of his work will only make you want more.
A Song for Lost Blossoms, his latest work, continues a trend he's developed over the past few years: collaboration. This time, he's enlisted the assistance of Clive Wright, a fellow minimalist, and the record they created is a labor of love. When you've loved a musician's work as long as I've loved Budd's, it becomes difficult to find the exact words to describe his music--you simply take what they do for granted, and you simply want to say, "Here, it's Harold Budd, you know what you're getting," and that's true here. Unlike Budd's recent collaboration with Eraldo Bernocci (Music for 'fragments from the inside'), or his notable collaboration with Robin Guthrie, Wright's collaborative element isn't obvious; instead, Wright helps to accentuate Budd's melodies. When you collaborate, sometimes it's good not to stand out; sometimes it's best to simply accentuate the best elements of the greater talent.
Of course, the music on A Song for Lost Blossoms is utterly mind-bendingly beautiful. The album starts with one of Budd's biggest singular pieces to date, the epic 32-minute "Pensive Aphrodite." I have Budd records that are almost as long as this one, and by the time the song finishes, I feel reinvigorated. Hell, the rest of the record is just a little bit longer than this one song, and, really, it could stand apart as a singular record. The melodies are deep, the compositions lush--everything you expect from the Harold Budd name. Two of the songs, "Forever Hold My Breath" and "At This Moment," are live recordings; it proves that Budd is simply no studio composer.
I like the trend of Budd-as-collaborator. There are a ton of people I'd love to hear him work with. A collaboration with Marc Byrd of Hammock? Ulrich Schnauss? William Basinski? A new Andy Partridge record? Stars of the Lid? All of these collaborations would produce beautiful aural fruits, and I'd freak out like a teenager if he were to record with any of them, but for now I'm extremely satisfied with A Song for Lost Blossoms, this year's best Harold Budd record, and one of those "best of 2008" records to boot!
Listen To: "At This Moment"
A Song For Lost Blossoms is available now on Darla Records
Labels: Clive Wright, Darla Records, Harold Budd, Reviews b