Sleeping Dogs Lie 77: Harold Budd, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois

pearlHearing Budd’s piano slowly fade in with the start of “Late October” is just one of those perfect moments — it’s something very distinctly him, made even more so with Eno’s touches and slight echo, and it signals the start of a fine album indeed. Acting in some respects as the understandable counterpart to Ambient 2, with the same sense of hushed, ethereal beauty the partnership brought forth on that album, The Pearl is so ridiculously good it instantly shows up much of the mainstream new age as the gloopy schlock that it often is. Eno himself is sensed as a performer on the album, if not by his absence then by his very understated presence. The merest hints of synth and whisper play around Budd’s performances, ensuring the latter takes center stage. Eno and Daniel Lanois handle the production side of things, their teamwork once again overseeing a winner. When they bring themselves a little more to the fore, it still always is in the subtlest of ways, as with the artificially higher-pitched notes from Budd on “Lost in the Humming Air.” Part of the distinct charm of the album is how the song titles perfectly capture what the music sounds like — “A Stream With Bright Fish” is almost self-defining. Another key point is how Budd truly captures what ambience in general can and does mean. “Against the Sky” is a strong example — it can be totally concentrated upon or left to play as atmospherics and is also at once both truly beautiful and not a little haunting in a disturbing sense. Other highlight tracks include the deceptively simple title track, as serene a piece of music as was ever recorded, and the closing “Still Return,” bringing The Pearl to a last peak of beauty. ~ Ned Raggett, AMG

glitterbugA clue as to the origins of Music For Glitterbug was finally gleaned in June of 1998 when Eno was interviewed in Mojo magazine: “Spinner wasn’t really a collaboration [with Jah Wobble]. I had done the soundtrack to the Derek Jarman film, Glitterbug, but didn’t think it stood up on its own as an album, without the film.”

Jarman’s last completed film while he was still alive was 1993’s Blue. Blue consists of a single shot of saturated blue colour filling the screen, as background to a soundtrack composed by Simon Fisher Turner featuring original music by Coil and other artists, where Jarman describes his life and vision.

The concept of Glitterbug was to use super 8 mm films Jarman had taken throughout his life and splice them together to tell his story. In the end, he managed to edit about an hour’s worth. This is how All Movie Guide described the hurriedly-made documentary: “It is considered to be the companion piece to Jarman’s film Blue. Without a traditional plot, the film chronicles Jarman’s life before AIDS with a series of free-flowing images gleaned from over 15 hours of Jarman’s home movies taken between the years 1970-1985. London provides the central image, but other places seen include Italy, Spain, and rural England. The glittering parties filled with drag queens, drugs, and interesting people before the onset of AIDS are also chronicled.”

Here is the original stereo mix of that soundtrack that was eventually worked over by Jah Wobble and released as Spinner after much changes – Wobble added rhythms, bass parts, and orchestra.

01 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Late October” (04:44) from “The Pearl” (1984)
02 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “A Stream With Bright Fish” (03:57) from “The Pearl” (1984)
03 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “The Silver Ball” (03:31) from “The Pearl” (1984)
04 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Against The Sky” (04:52) from “The Pearl” (1984)
05 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Lost In The Humming Air” (04:21) from “The Pearl” (1984)
06 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Dark-Eyed Sister” (04:42) from “The Pearl” (1984)
07 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Their Memories” (02:58) from “The Pearl” (1984)
08 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “The Pearl” (03:14) from “The Pearl” (1984)
09 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Foreshadowed” (03:52) from “The Pearl” (1984)
10 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “An Echo Of Night” (02:28) from “The Pearl” (1984)
11 Harold Budd/Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois: “Still Return” (04:12) from “The Pearl” (1984)
12 Brian Eno: “Glitterbug 08” (03:10) from “Music For Glitterbug” (1994)
13 Brian Eno: “Glitterbug 10” (03:00) from “Music For Glitterbug” (1994)
14 Brian Eno: “Glitterbug 11” (03:19) from “Music For Glitterbug” (1994)
15 Brian Eno: “Glitterbug 17” (02:05) from “Music For Glitterbug” (1994)
16 Brian Eno: “Glitterbug 18” (04:22) from “Music For Glitterbug” (1994)


Sleeping Dogs Lie 26: Jet Chamber, NASA – Voyager Recordings, Harold Budd

Jet Chamber is Pete Namlook & Atom Heart.

Possibly one of NASA’s most avant-garde projects ever, “Symphonies of the Planets” is a five-CD set that is now out of print. Put simply, it consists of recordings made by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 as they passed by the various planets and moons of our solar system. Although sound as we perceive it cannot travel in the vacuum of space, each planet and moon emits its own electromagnetic “signature” that can be picked up by the right instruments, and those emanations can be converted into sound and recorded onto compact discs for your listening enjoyment. Of the five discs in the set, Volume 1 is my personal favorite, but all of them are definitely worth checking out. Each disc is only around 30 minutes long, but those 30 minutes are packed with cosmic ambience that is even more profound when you consider that no human artist composed this. Fans of Dr. Fiorella Terenzi’s similar recordings of space will find this stuff to their liking, although a bit more “dark” and atmospheric than hers.

“Luxa” was Harold Budd’s first solo album since 1991’s “By the Dawn’s Early Light”. The time between solo album was spent recording and collaborating with the likes of Zeitgeist, Andy Partridge, and Hector Zazou. This album also marked a break for Budd from writing for ensembles, as he had throughout the 1990s. One notable difference between this keyboard-focused album and the last one like it (1988’s acclaimed “The White Arcades”) are the brighter tones Budd displays on each instrumental. While tracks such as “Mandan” and “Agnes Martin” are decidedly moodier, many others have a warm, languid feel, possibly due to the influence of the desert around Mesa, Arizona, where this album was recorded. “Luxa” may be not be as inventive as other Budd works, and there are a few familiar fragments floating about, but it still maintains a hypnotic hold on the listener while inspiring cinematic images in the mind’s eye. The veteran composer’s mastery of space and silence still places him far above the legions of New Age imitators who use minimalism as a crutch rather than as a true means of expression.

01. Jet Chamber: “Calm Box” (from “Jet Chamber II”, Fax +49-69/450464, 1996)
02. NASA – Voyager Recordings: “Symphonies of the Planets 01” (from “Symphonies of the Planets”, LaserLight Digital, 1992)
03. Harold Budd: “Nove Alberi” (from “Luxa”, All Saints, 1996)
04. Harold Budd: “Chet” (from “Luxa”, All Saints, 1996)