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A Song for Lost Blossoms

Harold Budd & Clive Wright

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Album Review

Well then, so much for composer Harold Budd's "retirement." The wonderful Avalon Sutra/As Long as I Can Hold My Breath from 2005 was supposedly his swan song. Indeed, he was quoted in interviews as saying that he'd said everything he wanted to say musically. Given the sound of A Song for Lost Blossoms on Darla, that's perhaps very true. This isn't meant to suggest that what's here isn't worthy of a single listen, or isn't full of the studied, halting magical subtlety that has given Budd his longstanding reputation as a composer of music that is truly beautiful and mysterious as well as understated. Hardly. Recorded over two years in collaboration with guitarist and producer Clive Wright (Cock Robin, Peter Gabriel, the Black Eyed Peas) at various studios and at one another's homes, much of what is here is exactly that. However, at seven tracks and nearly 75 minutes, this is Budd at his most excessive, haltingly contemplative, and calculating. What made Avalon Sutra/As Long as I Can Hold My Breath so captivating is that it not only surveyed the long and winding territory of all the stages of Budd's career as a minimal but abstract composer of melodic music, but that it also took some chances with his own forms and pointed in new directions, places worth summing up because they were actually previously unexplored. The music here with Wright — and a very nice sampled string arrangement by the wonderful Akira Rabelais on "Forever Hold My Breath" (Rabelais did the production and electronic cut-up on "As Long as I Can Hold My Breath") — is simply long, repetitive, and aimless. It provides atmospheres for dreaming — especially the 32-minute opening track, "Pensive Aphrodite" — but not much else. The music here is so wispy, meandering around very small frames, that it seems to go nowhere at all no matter how pleasant it is. This isn't meant to suggest that longtime Budd fans won't be absolutely delighted with the album; it simply means that revisiting and repeating yourself endlessly isn't a very memorable way to retire. Let's hope that either Budd is back and plans on exploring some new territory in the future, or that these recordings are just a left-over, stuttering gasp to be issued without regard for overall quality, and that his last intentional will and testament as a composer was indeed the Avalon Sutra release.

Biography

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,...
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A Song for Lost Blossoms, Harold Budd
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