Posts Tagged ‘Harold Budd’

New Music from Jeff Greinke & Chad Lawson on Echoes

August 1, 2013

Listen to New Music from Jeff Greinke & Chad Lawson on Echoes tonight

The Space BetweenWe’ll hear the latest by Jeff Greinke who has crafted a gorgeous chamber music album called Scenes From a Train. Then it’s pianist Chad Lawson who resides in that zone of ambient piano pioneered by Harold Budd.

Watch Chad Lawson’s live performance of “Heart in Hand” from his 2013 album, The Space Between, below.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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Harold Budd Tribute

February 16, 2012

The OKTAF RECORDS label is putting out what looks to be a very promising tribute album to Harold Budd with people like Biosphere, Marsen Jules,  and several artists I’m less familiar with.

Here’s the Press Release:

With “Lost In The Humming Air – Music inspired by Harold Budd” oktaf records announces an amazing collection of thirteen exclusive tracks made by a selection of some of todays best known ambient music producers giving their tribute to the outstanding piano legend Harold Budd.

The playlists features names as: Deaf Center, Loscil, Martin Fuhs, Biosphere, Xela, Marsen Jules, Andrew Thomas, Mokira, Christopher Willits, Taylor Deupree, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Porn Sword Tobacco and bvdub feat. Criss Van Wey.

Well known for his spaceful piano playing and his early cooperations with Brian Eno, Harold Budd has inspired a whole generation of modern protagonists of ambient, jazz and especially the so called modern classical genre. With his recent releases on David Sylvians Samadhi Sound label as well as on Darla, he is still showing his outstanding musical genius to the world.

“Lost in the Humming Air (Music inspired by Harold Budd)” will be released on April 9th (March 26th digital) on oktaf records. Exclusively distributed by Kompakt.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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5 Essential Harold Budd CDs.

September 9, 2010

Silence Required: The Best of Harold Budd, an Icon of Echoes.

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Harold Budd in Echoes Concert

Harold Budd is a romantic with a classicist’s soul and an experimenter’s openness to chance. He’s never opted for the obvious ploys for the heartstrings.  Instead, Budd explores the geometry of passion, the calculus of love and the shadows of memories.   Harold has been on Echoes many times over the years.  He’s recorded three Echoes Living Room Concerts.  One of them appears on his own CD, Little Windows.   He was voted #20 of 20 Icons of Echoes.   You can hear an interview with him tonight 9/9/2010, incluidng comments from Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and John Adams.

Here’s 5 of his CDs you should have.

5 Essential Harold Budd CDs

1 The Plateaux of Mirror
From the first fade in of echoing piano notes, The Plateaux of Mirror established the ouevre Harold Budd would explore for the next 30 years.  Working in collaboration with Brian Eno, Budd unfolds his nostalgic, wistful melodies like the echo from a dusty parlor.  Relentlessly pretty, laden with reverb and Eno’s shadowing ambient treatments, Plateaux reveals itself in ever deepening layers and Budd’s melodic improvisations that drop like slow motion rain across the soundfield.

2 The Pavilion of Dreams
This was Harold Budd’s first album.  It was produced by Brian Eno, but drew upon Budd’s compositions from the early 1970s before he met the ambient producer.  This is Budd refracting minimalism, jazz, exoticism and his own growing sense of ambient spaces and heartwrenching melodicism.  “Bismallahi ‘Rrahmann ‘Rrahim”  moves in waves of gently cresendoing melody, sustained on gurgling marimbas and pushed by the alto of Marion Brown, the great avant-garde saxophonist who taps into his lyrical side for Budd.   “Madrigals of the Rose Angel” is a haunting work for choir and chamber group.

3 The Pearl
In their second collaboration, The Pearl, Harold Budd and Brian Eno go even more minimal and restrained.  Budd drops notes and contemplates each one with zen-like meditation.  “Against the Sky” is a work of sublime restraint with Budd playing a Fender Rhodes electric piano in which each note sustains into infinity, trailed by one of Eno’s ambient ghost strings.

4 Avalon Sutra
This was supposed to be Harold Budd’s swansong and one of the reasons he went into depression is because he couldn’t get this album released.  But David Sylvian saved the day, releasing it on his Samadhi Sound label.  Avalon Sutra is a masterpiece of ambient chamber miniatures as Budd threads his tremulous, spartan piano themes amidst a string quartet, the reeds of Philip Glass accompanist, Jon Gibson and ambient atmospheres.  It’s a CD that seems haunted by memories and longing, and many of the pieces bear dedications to people in Budd’s life.  If there’s a flaw to Avalon Sutra, some of the pieces are simply too short.  You want to hear these pearls extended and developed.  That happens on a second bonus disc, an expanded remix by Akira Rabelais.  He takes Budd’s miniatures and stretches them and reforges them into a single extended meditation.  Either disc leaves you immersed in a world of bittersweet melancholy.

The Room was a return to form for Budd, recalling the suspended piano tones of The Plateaux of Mirror as well as the icy atmospheres of his late 1980s album, The White Arcades.  In fact, the album is based on a piece called “The Room” from The White Arcades recording.  Budd explores the most sublime melancholy on The Room, with piano melodies hanging like moss gardens over ghostly organ drones and reverbs.  Every melody is fecund with shadows, hidden glances and hazy memories. Many musicians have adopted Budd’s sound and most of them pale in comparison once the master starts ruminating.

Be sure to check out the other 20 Icons of Echoes and listen to Harold Budd, tonight, Thursday  9/9/10 on Echoes.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Ludovico Einaudi’s Nightbook, Echoes March CD of the Month

February 24, 2010

Ludovico Einaudi’s Tales from the Nightbook

Bookmark and ShareYou can hear a podcast of this review with Ludovico Einaudi’s music.

Pianist Ludovico Einaudi is a different kind of classical composer.  He’s a student of the avant-garde and the rich classical tradition of his native Italy.  But the 54 year-old pianist is also a child of rock ‘n’ roll and minimalism.  All of that comes together in an ambient chamber music that is precise in its emotions, serene in its repose and exuberant in its realization.

On his latest album, Nightbook, Ludovico Einaudi brings avant-garde edges to rhapsodic piano works.  Think George Winston remixed by The Orb, with a bit of 50’s exotica, and 60’s sci-fi electronics.  On tracks like “In Principio” he nods to Harold Budd and Brian Eno, expanding the concept of solo piano with haunting glitched echoes and fractured reverb.  It’s like unearthing a digital artifact and seeing its image through a cracked lens.

Ludovico Einaudi in Echoes Concert

In the 1970s, he might have been called a minimalist, in the ’80s a New Age artist and in the 90s an ambient musician.  But Ludovico Einaudi is all of that and more.  He brings an emotional precision and a cerebral play to his music that probably comes from his studies with Italian avant-garde icon, Luciano Berio.  Listen to the calibrated emotions of “Reverie,” a wistful track for piano, vibes and cello that seems like the last wave goodbye.

Ludovico Einaudi has an electro-ambient trio called Whitetree that includes electronic musician Robert Lippok.  He’s all over Nightbook, playing electronic sounds that don’t glisten and groove like chromium clockwork.  Instead, they wheeze and whisper like busted steam pipes and dream voices. “Bye Bye Mon Amour” is an ecstatic interplay between Einaudi’s piano and Lippok’s electronics.  “The Planets” is his miniaturized, ambient take on the Gustav Holst theme.  But Einaudi’s planets sound more like lost transmissions and doppler echoes from the solar system.

Nightbook isn’t all reverie and melancholy.  Percussion drives “Lady Labyrinth” as Einaudi pounds out left hand chords against a subtly syncopated beat that sounds like the score for the last charge into the breach.

Ludovico Einaudi has some 20 albums out in Europe where he sells out venues like the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican Centre in London.  But Nightbook may be the best introduction to the range of this artist. It’s thoroughly modern music but with a texture and depth as if written on old frayed and singed paper.  It’s the Echoes CD of the Month for March.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Harold Budd-Post Miles Improvisor

December 11, 2009

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For a totally different side of Harold Budd, check out this YouTube video of him in a fairly free form blowout with Bill Laswell, Jaki Liebezeit, Graham Haynes and Jah Wobble.  This isn’t your father’s ambient chamber music and you wouldn’t hear it on Echoes, but wow!   Harold et al: Put this out!

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Harold Budd & Clive Wright Interview

September 11, 2009


Harold Budd & Clive Wright: Strangers in the Ambient Night

You can get the Podcast of this interview with music here.

Clive Wright and Harold Budd couldn’t be more different. Born in 1936, Harold Budd is elegant, and thoughtful. He looks like he just got off the golf course and is nursing his second martini on the veranda, contemplating the sunset. Clive Wright on the other hand is all nervous, top of the mind energy. Born in England in 1953, he’s sweating in the summer heat of the Joshua Tree desert a few hours southeast of Los Angeles, offering me a beer.

Harold Budd @ Echoes Concert

Harold Budd @ Echoes Concert

Harold Budd is the author of 35 years worth of pensive ambient chamber music full of open spaces.

Harold Budd: My idea of working in the studio is to play as very little as possible, and take what you got and then work with that.

Clive Wright is still a journeyman musician, best known as the guitarist with a pop group called Cock Robin.

Clive Wright in Studio

Clive Wright in Studio

Clive Wright: Yes, I know, it really throws a curve ball to a lot of critics. They see Cock Robin and they see Montell Jordan and even the Black Eyed Peas. I actually did a lot of R&B stuff in the ‘90s.

But somehow these two musicians got together to make a pair of ambient albums, A Song of Lost Blossoms and Candylion. They met when Harold moved out to Joshua Tree in 2004. Neither musician had ever heard of the other.

Harold Budd: Not at all, not at all. He told me he had been with Cock Robin which meant nothing to me. I never heard of Cock Robin and in fact I still don’t. I still don’t know anything about them.

Clive Wright: I didn’t even know who Harold was until Carl [Roessler] actually played a type of Harold playing a Daniel Lanois’ Party. It was just like acoustic piano. It wasn’t Harold at his best, I think Harold would admit that. I just kept listening to the thing, “Well, what was the big fuss about this guy?” I mean, I just really didn’t get it at that time. Later on, of course, I heard his work with Brian Eno, I was just absolutely astounded.

Clive Wright wasn’t a stranger to ambient music. He’d formed a group with native flute and didgeridoo player Carl Roessler called Spiral Ascension. They released a prototypically ambient album called Earth, Sea and Sky.

413Fs5sqrdL._SL500_AA240_The very first piece Harold Budd and Clive Wright worked on became the 30 minute opening track of A Song of Lost Blossoms. Called “Pensive Aphrodite,” it’s a pure improvisation for electric guitar and keyboard. Harold says they didn’t establish any parameters, including key signature, before playing.

Harold Budd: Not a thing. I think probably the key I chose because it’s the first sound you hear. [laughs]

Clive Wright:”Pensive Aphrodite” is a performance because it was actually recorded straight to a two-track. We ended up recording it straight to CD. It was like one of those cuts, it just goes straight to a recording CD player.

Sitting at a piano at Knobworld Studios in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, Harold Budd opens up a small notebook.

Harold Budd: I always have a notebook with me. I write down song titles the way that I sketch out poetry ideas, or something like that, yeah.

It’s those song titles that often yield the kernal of a composition.

Clive Wright: Harold is a master of titles, he writes titles. Before the piece is even written, and sometimes, it’s not assigned to that piece, and the same thing happened with “Blossoms.” He writes the title and he throws them at me on an email. I’m looking at the email and I’m thinking, “There’s no way.” (laughs) No way that’s going to work, you know.

Their second album, Candylion, released in the middle of 2009, is different. Budd was living in Pasadena while Wright remained in Joshua Tree.

Harold Budd: Well, yes it is different in that there’s no time ever that we play together. I would lay a groundwork or a mood or something. Something that really attracted me, I would put it down in order.

Clive Wright: He insisted on the sequencing of the tracks be as we recorded them. He won’t allow me to shuffle them up.

Harold Budd: Candylion is sequenced in order of recording, which is a very — I don’t say important thing for me — but I think about, “Well, what should be next” and that usually determines what is next as a matter of fact.

It’s unclear whether Clive Wright and Harold Budd will record together again. They don’t even necessarily agree on the concept of their albums. Sitting in his studio, surrounded by a jumble of guitars and electronic gear, Clive Wright feels they are in the midst of a trilogy.

Clive Wright: Candylion was conceived by Harold Budd as a second album in a triptych , a desert triptych . So, thematically, it’s about the desert.

Harold Budd: I don’t really think so. They are not. They have nothing to do with the landscape. I don’t feel wedded to the landscape that way. That faux romance of the western deserts, I don’t buy it.

While Harold Budd and Clive Wright contemplate their future collaborations together, you can hear their two albums, Candylion and A Song of Lost Blossoms, both on Darla Records.

Listen to Echoes Podcast of this Interview.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Further Reading/Listening

Review of Harold Budd & Clive Wright’s A Song of Lost Blossoms

Review of Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie’s: After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks

Echo Location: Ludovico Einaudi’s Ambient Chamber Music

September 19, 2008

Ludovico Einaudi orchestrates new refinements in ambient chamber music.

You can also hear an Audio version of this blog, with music.

Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi heeds a dictum of ambient chamber music pioneer, Harold Budd. He declared that he wanted to hear music that’s so beautiful it hurts. Divenire On albums like Divenire, Ludovico Einaudi’s music is unabashedly beautiful and maybe a little romantic, but there’s something that keeps him from becoming sentimental and that’s probably his studies with the dean of the Italian avant-garde, Luciano Berio. Berio’s combination of acoustic and electronic sound and his cerebral approach tempered by Italian romanticism had it’s impact on Ludovico Einaudi. As a classical composer who didn’t look down on popular music Berio showed Einaudi that the ivory tower wasn’t the only place to make music.

Ludovico Einaudi: There was something that, in common between us because he has strong love for, for folk music and also popular music, he transcribed also some from the Beatles and he was interested in African music, so I think he was understanding what I was doing even it was very different from what he was doing.

Like Berio, Einaudi experiments with technology, creating ambient electronic accompaniment and using loops of his piano to created haunted echoes in his work on trackes like “Uno” from Divenire.

Ludovico Einaudi on Echoes

Ludovico Einaudi on Echoes

Now in his mid-50s, Ludovico Einaudi, is as likely to record with African kora player, Ballake Sissoko as work with German electronica artist Robert Lippok.

Ludovico Einaudi: In contemporary music, the music has to be connected with life. And it’s impossible to think it’s a music that is not in touch with the world and what’s happening in the streets.

Einaudi is in his mid-50s and a child of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but he deploys those influences in subtle ways. The guitar loop to his song, “Eden Roc” recalls the delayed guitar lines of U2‘S “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

Eden Roc Ludovico Einaudi is only now getting exposure in the US after years of selling out concert halls in Europe. He’s become a defingin voice in ambient chamber music sitting comfortably among composers like Michael Nyman, Arvo Pärt and Max Richter.  Classical elegance, modernist sensibilities and a simple harmonic language combine with breathtaking and often heartrending melodies for emotionally powerful music.  Last year’s CD, Divenire made several top ten lists last year including the number 2 slot on 25 Essential Echoes CDs for 2007.  He’s just released Live in Berlin.   Anyway, we have to love somebody who calls an anthology of his music Echoes: The Einaudi Collection. A complete interview with Ludovico Einaudi runs tonight, September 17, on Echoes. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music

You can also hear an Audio version of this blog, with music.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Hector Zazou Dies: Ambient Chamber World Music Pioneer

September 11, 2008

Hector Zazou was a quirky French composer who worked quietly in the background, creating music that sent subtle ripples across the music firmament. He died this past Monday, September 8 at the age of 60. Most of the hipster community discovered him in the mid-1990s when he released the albums, Sahara Blue and Songs from the Cold Seas, both brilliant world fusion collaborations with a galaxy of new music stars including Lisa Gerrard, Björk, David Sylvian and John Cale. In an Audio Magazine review of Sahara Blue, I wrote:
Sahara Blue

Sahara Blue should be a textbook album for anyone attempting a tribute album in the future. Once beyond the allure of the initial concept, Zazou’s Sahara Blue gets more interesting and reveals more layers with each listening, both musically and poetically.  

It’s fitting that he adapted the writings of Rimbaud who sought altered realities and the places where edges blur. Zazou has been doing that from the beginning on albums like Geologies and Geographies, both at the genesis of Ambient Chamber Music, mixing string ensembles with electronics in compositions that were poignantly melodic. 

A graduate of the Conservatory of Marseilles, Zazou studied with electronic music pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. He downplays the influence of Schaeffer, but you can hear the impact of the French musique concrete pioneer in the way Zazou manipulated sound and used fragments of performances to create a final work.

“That’s where Hector Zazou is really smart,” recalled Lisa Gerrard in a 1995 Echoes interview about Sahara Blue. “He picks up fragments and once he gets them home, he really works them, but the fragments he picks up, he picks up in bizarre situations really.”

Coming Home He created African electro dance music with Bikaye, produced seminal albums by Yungchen Lhamo and Sevara Nazarkhan and collaborated with fellow ambient chamGlyphber music pioneer, Harold Budd on the album, Glyph.

Zazou operated where the borders are obscured and the secrets are found in between. “Yes. Absolutely, he agreed in a 1994 interview for Echoes. “Because it’s in these areas that you can discover something. You know it’s like when you discover an old city or something like that, so probably all the searchers are going to be in the center. But if you walk two kilometers from the center, I’m sure that you can find some little things. But, my field is working on these layers of sound and so it is a surrealistic place where everything is a little dreamy and out of the real world.”

Hector Zazou is supposed to have a final album, an ambient instrumental CD called In The House of Mirrors, released shortly.   There’s an excellent obit in The Independent.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))







Harold Budd & Clive Wright: A Song For Lost Blossoms

August 15, 2008

For a guy who supposedly retired 4 years ago, Harold Budd is sure putting out a lot of records. He’s just offered up a new slice of gauzy atmosphere, hazy keyboards and unguitar-like electric guitar with Clive Wright. It’s called A Song for Lost Blossoms .
Song for Lost Blossoms
This works out to be the Robert Fripp and Harold Budd collaboration that I don’t believe ever happened. Wright is very much in the Fripp school of guitar playing using loops, delays, an e-bow and lots of volume pedal swells. You can hear that on “Forever Hold My Breath” with the guitarist playing over some slowly undulating keyboard waves, laying down those sinewy glissando leads. It’s one of two live performances on the disc and you can see the video of it on YouTube. There’s no sign of Budd in the video, just Wright spotlighted alone on the stage.

YouTube Vid:

Lost Blossoms is an album that stretches out over time, and in the case of “Pensive Aphrodite” that stretch goes 32 minutes. It sounds like several vignettes strung together and it does sound rudderless at times. But the rest of the album is more concise with tracks like “At This Moment,” attaining a quiet heroism through swirling string pads and Fender Rhodes modulations that Wright uses like electric towers to drape his elongated solos.

There’s another video up there as well with an album track over desert scenery that I assume is shot near Wright’s home in Joshua Tree.

You should know Harold Budd, the avatar of ambient chamber music.  Clive Wright is a lesser known, journeyman musician.  He played with the band Cock Robin in the 1980s, whose debut was produced by Steve Hillage.  (Hear Steve Hillage audio profile). He’s worked in sundry bands like Broken Edge and with R&B artists like Montel Jordan. Now he works as a session musician, cuts commercial and video soundtracks and also contributes to the newly reformed Cock Robin.  None of that prepares you for the liquid mercury guitar sound he drizzles slowly across Lost Blossoms.

You can tell these were built out of free-form jam sessions, perhaps a mood or a key agreed upon and then a meandering walk through a fog shrouded landscape. Harold Budd is one of the few musicians who can get away with that and not have it dismissed as aimless twaddle.  Like many of Budd’s albums, this one insinuates itself over time, rising up out of the background noise to sculpt a personal interior world.  A Song of Lost Blossoms, which takes its title from a poem by Cock Robin singer Anna LaCazio that’s recited on the title piece, is like the lost soundtrack for a Sergio Leone western, full of brooding atmospheres and ominous portent and occasional acts of triumph.

The street date for A Song of Lost Blossoms is October 7

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echo Location: The Penguin Cafe Orchestra

July 23, 2008

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra along with Harold Budd, virtually created the Ambient Chamber Music genre. Their CDs have just been re-released. In this Echo Location we return to a 1988 interview with PCO founder, the late-Simon Jeffes.

You can hear an audio version of this blog with music here.

When Malcolm McLaren decided that Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious should cover the Frank Sinatra hit, “My Way,” he got Simon Jeffes to write the string arrangements.

Simon Jeffes: His singing was grotesque, but at the same time there was something moving about it. And it wasn’t a send up when I did the arrangement. I actually got quite touched by it. Because although it sounded totally moronic in a way, it was full of kind of anger and despair and yet life, there was really life
in the piece.

“My Way” might be Simon Jeffes’ most notorious work, but it’s not the music for which he’s best known. That would be the quirky chamber music group, The Penguin Café Orchestra. They were an ad hoc assemblage of musicians headed up by Jeffes from 1973 until his untimely death 24 years later. They recorded their first album for rock and new music auteur Brian Eno‘s label called Obscure Records. The roster included John Adams, Harold Budd and Michael Nyman, but even more than those genre- bending composers, the Penguin Café Orchestra was unclassifiable.

You’ve heard the Penguin Café Orchestra on NPR shows, IBM commercials and even the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack. They were an influence on modern chamber rock and Trey Anastasio, guitarist from the jam band, Phish, was looking to the Penguin Café Orchestra when he composed his instrumental album, Seis De Mayo.

Trey Anastasio: If there was a sound that was in my head, interestingly, it was probably the Penguin Café Orchestra. I don’t know how many albums they had but I had one of them, and I use to always play that album while I was cooking. So when I sequenced and mixed this album I literally sequenced it in the kitchen while cooking, and I use to think I want to have an album that you can cook to, like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

I think Simon Jeffe’s would’ve appreciated the music for cooking scenario.

Simon Jeffes: It was whole idea of an orchestra playing Beethoven in a smokey atmosphere, I think was very exciting. People with a sparkle in their eye and sort of maybe a cigarette in the corner of their mouth.

Several albums from the Penguin Café Orchestra have just been re-released.

You can hear a longer version of this interview, Tonight, July 23, on Echoes. You can also here an audio version of this Echo Location with music.

It’s hard to pick out on Penguin Café Orchestra album. Signature songs are scattered across their 4 studio recordings.

Signs of Life My personal favorite is Signs of Life. Besides key tracks like “Southern Jukebox Music,” it has a few songs of unalloyed and quaint beauty including “Rosasolis” and “Perpetuum Mobile.”


Music From the Penguin Cafe (Reis)  Music from the Penguin Café, their debut, is still a standout. Playing ukeleles and quatros, with earnest string arrangements, this album was so unhip that it was ultrahip. “The Penguin Café Single” stands out here.

                                                                                                                                                                    Penguin Cafe Orchestra The self-titled album, Penguin Café Orchestra contains “Telephone and Rubber Band,” the closest they came to pure novelty, although they always flirted with that. (Note that the CD cover links to the original CD issue. The remastered version wasn’t on Amazon at this writing.)

Broadcasting from Home Broadcasting from Home has some signature tracks, including “Music for a Found Harmonium.”


When in Rome When In Rome is a live album and contains faithful renditions of most of PCO’s best-loved tracks.


 John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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