It was only in returning to that gorgeous – as far as I’m concerned perfect – record that Harold Budd made with Brian Eno, The Plateux of Mirror that I realised I needed to spend more time in Budd’s world. I’ve listened to most things Eno’s had his name on – as player, producer, conceptualist (sometimes it’s all three, sometimes it’s more a case of him simply offering spiritual guidance) but it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve caught up with a lot of Budd’s work. Here, at 77, he’s still releasing wonderful music, soft autumnal hues that inch around that idea of ambient at times, but softly, quietly seek to find a new space too.
Jane 1-11 is his latest, and following on from the gorgeous, perfect minimalism of Perhaps it’s my favourite of the Budd records I’ve heard. The eleven songs – sequentially Jane 1 to Jane 11 are gentle, sometimes cautious but with lovely surprises as his soft-keys approach keeps finding new ways to slip inside the mind, to coat the room, to soundtrack your thoughts.
Jane 3 is reminiscent of his Eno work, Jane 2 also has a hint of Eno, but it’s to The Shutov Assembly, in the way the atmosphere rolls out, as much a piece of sound installation as a tune.
Jane 4 is soundtrack/ish with wonderful use of space around treated harp sounds.
In fact all of the Janes here bring something new – whether a whole new sound from Budd or a reminder of an album from his past. Jane 8 is currently my favourite standalone piece, a warm aura to it and so tranquil.
The Jane who is the likely muse here is artist Jane Maru – it’s her cover painting for the album.
Strong work from Budd these past few year, a career of wonderful music. And even though I’ve still got works to go back to and works to discover for the first time this album is one of the finest I’ve heard from the great composer. Beautiful music. You’ll never feel alone with this. Or if you want to feel alone – this will help you achieve the right headspace, nothing else in the world could ever matter while this music has its felt-covered hooks in the smallest part of a corner of your mind.