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Harold Budd - The Pearl (with Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois) CD (album) cover

THE PEARL (WITH BRIAN ENO & DANIEL LANOIS)

Harold Budd

 

Progressive Electronic

3.91 | 51 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I find the two Harold Budd/Brian Eno collaborations fascinating in that I enjoy both a good deal when I'm listening to them but struggle to articulate why I like them. This is especially interesting to me given that, for the most part, I tend to find more to dig out of ambient albums than many people do, both for albums that I like more than these and for albums that I like a good deal less. As on Ambient 2, this album is built around Budd playing rather sparse fragments of piano melodies, with Eno adding some embellishments through his production tricks and some nature sounds (this one also features Daniel Lanois helping out with production). Some of the tracks manage to evoke imagery consistent with their titles; for instance, "Late October" is a perfect soundtrack for walking from the train in the evening around that time, "A Stream with Bright Fish" has contrast between a droning underpinning (the stream) and bright flittery piano (the fish), and "An Echo of Night" somewhat calls back to some of the Apollo material. A lot of this, though, seems like it could have had any title attached to it and things would have been fine. I actually don't mind this very much; perhaps more here than with any of Eno's first-generation (roughly through Thursday Afternoon) ambient projects, this album is a series of Rorschach blots, and while the tracks don't tend to evoke something specific, they all definitely evoke something.

This sort of description may make this album sound like it's unbearable, or at best something along on the lines of Thursday Afternoon, which works as a catalyst for improving one's feeling of well-being but does little else. This comparison would be grossly unfair, if only because (a) the themes in the various tracks are pretty engrossing when they're on, and (b) the presence of 11 separate tracks forces some sense of variety into the album despite the consistent minimalist instrumentation. These are tracks that one experiences in a way that improves one's life in the moment (not in a "cheering up" sort of way, since the album's actually somewhat morose in tone, but definitely in an "adding depth" sort of way) but leaves little trace once it's gone, like a particularly enriching dream that fades into obscurity upon waking up. Even if you don't remember the dream, though, you remember that the dream was a good one, and likewise this album always leaves me glad that I listened to it (or to individual tracks from it that pop up when I'm using shuffle). If you liked Ambient 2, you'll probably like this just about as much.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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