Real Name: Harold Budd
Local: LOS ANGELES, California, US
Labels: Advance Recordings, Cantil, Obscure, Polydor K.K., Editions EG, 4AD, Opal Records, All Saints, Materiali Sonori, New Albion, Made To Measure, Polygram Music Publishing, New World Records, Atlantic, Shout! Factory, Edsel Records, Samadhisound, Sub Rosa, RareNoise Records, Darla Records, University Of Southern California, SSR Records, Twentythree,
Profile: Harold Budd has more than 30 solo recordings and collaborations to his credit, from solo piano pieces to densely orchestrated compositions.
Born in Los Angeles May 24, 1936, his love of jazz (he briefly played drums with saxophonist Albert Ayler while serving in the Army) led Harold to get a degree in music composition. He released his first record, the Coltrane-inspired The Pavilion of Dreams, on Brian Eno's Obscure label in 1978 and is still musically active today.
Sites: samadhisound.com/haroldbudd, MySpace
In Groups: Harold Budd & Clive Wright, Jah Wobble's Solaris, Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd
Harold Budd, a modern poet of the piano, has been playing music since his teens, yet it was not until his late 30s that he found his true voice as a composer. And it was only in 1978, with the release of "The Pavilion of Dreams", his first record, that the work of this genial Californian began to find an international audience.
At 15, Budd was an apprentice drummer in love with jazz and bebop, with ambitions to tour with John Coltrane. At 21, he decided to get himself an education and enrolled at Los Angeles Community College for a course in music theory. "From that moment on," he recalls, "I had an insatiable appetite. Harmony, counterpoint, Renaissance music: I really heard it for the first time."
Later, drafted into the army, he played drums in an army band with jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. Resuming his studies at the University of Southern California, he discovered the abstract expressionist paintings of Mark Rothko. These "brilliant blasts of color that simply engulfed you" held an enormous significance for Budd, but the ability to translate such sensations into musical terms still eluded him.
In the early 60s, under the spell of John Cage amd Morton Feldman, he produced an indeterminate, improvisatory music, moving on, as the decade progressed, to a much more spare and minimalistic style: pieces consisted of quiet drones or simple instructions to the performers.
As the 70s began, Budd ground to an 18-month halt: "I really minimalized myself out of a career" he says now. The turning point came with "Madrigals of the Rose Angel" in 1972, a gently hypnotic work for harp, electric piano, celeste, percussion and lulling, angelic chorus"my favorite instuments"which he wrote for a university festival. Unable at that time to play the piano, Budd decided to learn so he could perform his own keyboard parts, and he has since gone on to develop his own uniquely improvisational, soft pedal style. "I had a vocabulary in which there was an infinite amount of material to draw upon" he says. Brian Eno heard a tape of "Madrigals" and offered Budd the chance to record this and other pieces from the hour-long "Pavilion of Dreams" cycle of Obscure Records. In 1980, the two collaborated on "The Plateaux of Mirror", the second record in Eno's Ambient series: Budd provided the electric and acoustic piano parts and Eno the crystalline studio treatments. This was followed in 1981 by "The Serpent (In Quicksilver)", a piano-based, solo mini-album, and in 1984 by "Abandoned Cities", two brooding side-long pieces, originally written for an art gallery installation, in which Budd revealed the darker side of his musical temperament. The same year, Budd and Eno worked together on "The Pearl", refining their approach on "Plateaux" with 13 poetically titled and exquisitely crafted glimpses of enchanted landscapes and underwater domains.
In 1986, Budd attracted well-deserved attention for his collaboration with The Cocteau Twins on "The Moon and the Melodies". It was followed by the acclaimed "Lovely Thunder" and his Opal Records debut, "The White Arcades". With "By the Dawn's Early Light" in 1991, Budd introduced spoken poetry into his music. While 1992's "Music for 3 Pianos" (with Ruben Garcia and Daniel Lentz) is again only instrumental, 1994's "She Is a Phantom" continues the music and poetry direction of "Dawn's" and marks a return to composing for ensemble. Released at nearly the same time as "She Is a Phantom", "Through the Hill" was a first-time collaboration with Andy Partridge of XTC, which Budd says "sounds like strangers who spent the afternoon together."
His thematic 2000 release The Room saw a return to a more minimalist approach. His album Avalon Sutra from 2004 was billed as "Harold Budd's Last Recorded Work" by the record label SamadhiSound. Their press release continues: "Avalon Sutra brings to a conclusion thirty years of sustained musical activity. Asked for his reasons, Budd says only that he feels that he has said what he has to say. With characteristic humility, he concludes, I dont mind disappearing!.
In spite of this, Budd's soundtrack to the film Mysterious Skin (a collaboration with Robin Guthrie) and Music for 'Fragments from the Inside' (with Eraldo Bernocchi) were both released in 2005.
In February 2007, David Sylvian's independent record label Samadhisound released Perhaps, a live recording of Budd's improvised performance in tribute to his late friend (and associate teacher at the then newly formed California Institute of Arts) James Tenney. Recorded at CalArts in December 06, the album is only available as a digital download.
Samadhisound released a podcast of Harold Budd in conversation with Akira Rabelais in April 2007. In this (Samadhisound Podcast 2), Harold said although he had believed at the time of recording Avalon Sutra that it would be his last album, he no longer felt that way. "It was a time in my life when things weren't just falling together for me, and I thought that I was just going to let it all slide ... and I was sincere about it but if I had been more conscious of my real feelings and had explored my inner sanctum more I would've seen that it was a preposterous thing to do ... I was dreadfully lonely; I was living alone in the desert and had been for too long, really, and I felt that isolation very severely after a while, and it's probably a version of self-pity, I'm sorry to say, to have publicly said something like that, but there it is, I said it, turns out I wasn't telling the truth - I didn't know it at the time."
Darla Records released two CDs by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd in June 2007, After The Night Falls and Before The Day Breaks. Recorded in Spring 2006, each features 9 tracks with linked titles, e.g. "How Distant Your Heart"/"How Close Your Soul" and "I Returned Her Glance"/"And Then I Turned Away".
In October 2008, a collaboration with Clive Wright entitled "Song for Lost Blossoms" was released by Darla Records. It includes recordings that were done live and in-studio at different locations, including both artists' homes. The album features some of their work done together between 2004 and 2006.
In 2009 it was released a new collaboration with Clive Wright entitled "Candylion" through Darla Records.
Date ALBUMS / Singles
1970 The Oak of the Golden Dreams / Coeur D'Orr (with works by Richard Maxfield) [New World Records]
1978 The Pavilion of Dreams [Editions EG]
1980 The Plateaux of Mirror (with Brian Eno) [Editions EG]
1981 The Serpent (in Quicksilver)(EP) [Cantil] (also released by Les Disques Du Crepuscule, Belgium, in 1982)
1984 Abandoned Cities [Cantil] (issued on CD with The Serpent (In Quicksilver) by Opal in 1989)
1984 The Pearl (with Brian Eno) [Editions EG]
1986 Lovely Thunder [Editions EG]
1986 The Moon and the Melodies (with Cocteau Twins) [4AD] (record credits Fraser, Guthrie and Raymonde by name as opposed to Cocteau Twins)
1987 Myths 3: La Nouvelle Serenite (with Gavin Bryars & Jon Hassell) [Sub Rosa]
1988 The White Arcades [Opal]
1991 By the Dawn's Early Light (with Bill Nelson) [Opal]
1992 Music for 3 Pianos (with Daniel Lentz & Ruben Garcia) [Hannibal]
1994 She is a Phantom [New Albion]
1994 Through the Hill (with Andy Partridge) [Hannibal]
1995 Glyph (with Hector Zazou) [Made To Measure]
1996 Glyph Remixes (12" LP, with Hector Zazou) [SSR]
1996 Walk Into My Voice: American Beat Poetry (with Daniel Lentz & Jessica Karraker)
1996 Luxa [All Saints]
1998 Fenceless Night: Selections for Cinema 1980-1998 (compilation, promotional only) [Polygram]
2000 The Room [Atlantic]
2002 Three White Roses and a Budd (CD Single, with Fila Brazillia and Bill Nelson) Twentythree Records
2002 Agua (live at the Lanzarote Music Festival, Dec. 1989) [La Cooka Ratcha]
2002 Jah Wobble's Solaris - Live In Concert (with Jah Wobble, Graham Haynes, Jaki Liebezeit & Bill Laswell) [30 Hertz Records]
2003 La Bella Vista [Shout Factory]
2003 Translucence/Drift Music (with John Foxx) [Edsel]
2004 Avalon Sutra / As Long as I Can Hold My Breath (Samadhi Sound)
2005 Music for 'Fragments from the Inside' (with Eraldo Bernocchi) [Sub Rosa]
2005 Mysterious Skin - Music from the Film (with Robin Guthrie) [Commotion]
2007 Perhaps (Samadhisound)
2007 After The Night Falls (with Robin Guthrie) Darla Records
2007 Before The Day Breaks (with Robin Guthrie) Darla Records
2008 A Song For Lost Blossoms (with Clive Wright) Darla Records
2009 Candylion (with Clive Wright) Darla Records
2009 Cedars of Lebanon (with U2) Interscope
2010 Little Windows (with Clive Wright) Darla Records
2011 Bordeaux (with Robin Guthrie) Darla Records
2011 Nighthawks (with John Foxx and Ruben Garcia)
2011 In The Mist (Darla Records)
Also appears on the following Various Artist cd compilations: Music For Films III (1992, All Saints), Compounds and Elements (2006, All Saints), Unlimited Ambient (1997) and Gene Bowen's album, Bourgeois Magnetic (Cantil 1981 /issued on CD by Amorfon 2007).
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