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Album Review

Budd, an early practitioner in the ambient school and frequent collaborator with Brian Eno, here teams up with musical nomad Hector Zazou, who had formed evocative partnerships with musicians from Africa to the Far North, from Bill Laswell to Björk. Glyph combines Budd's penchant for dreamy, shimmering electric keyboards with Zazou's rhythmic acumen, drawing from various world music sources as well as drum'n'bass and other dance club and urban sounds. Overall, it wavers between falling a bit too far on the fuzzy, new age-y side of the ambient divide (Budd's somewhat portentous vocalizations don't help) and achieving some constructions of real interest. Zazou always has a fine ear for instrumental textures, bringing in Renault Pion for some rich, sensual clarinet playing on several tracks and a couple of Finnish masters of the kantele, a kind of dulcimer, on the intriguing "Johnny Cake." The trumpet work of Christian Lechevretel, on the other hand, ventures a bit too close to a Miles Davis imitation for comfort. Fans of Zazou who have heard and enjoyed his work will find much to savor here but listeners who only know Budd from his more ethereal performances elsewhere may be slightly put off by the relatively aggressive and funky rhythms on a few pieces. Glyph is ambient music with a slightly surreal, just barely rough edge.


Born: 24 May 1936 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The American ambient/neo-classical composer who has most closely allied himself with the increasingly sympathetic independent rock underground -- through his collaborations with the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie -- Harold Budd is also one of the very few who can very rightly be called an ambient composer. His music, a sparse and tonal wash of keyboard treatments, was inspired by a boyhood spent listening to the buzz of telephone wires near his home in the Mojave Desert town of Victorville, CA (though...
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Glyph, Harold Budd
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