Budd was a poet, an avant-garde composer, a musician for hire and someone who released solo albums and collaborated – including John Foxx of Ultravox and a long-running partnership with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins. He made several albums with Brian Eno – either performing the music on an Eno title or with Eno as his producer. Their ‘ambient’ albums (Budd rejected the term – was more pleased with being deemed avant-garde and experimental) are canonical; hugely important in my life too. They are some of my most listened-to records.
I probably first heard Budd on Eno’s Ambient series, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror which has been the music for many moments in our house and a near-constant in my life over the last decade or so. For a time it was the bath-time soundtrack when we had a brand new baby in the house.
Budd was a drummer first and foremost – and his poetry is worth investigating too – but in his role as pianist and composer and collaborator he came to create actual soundtracks for TV and movies and many soundscapes that take on a soundtrack-to-life feel.
His second album, The Pavilion of Dreams was the start of the Eno collaboration; Brian producing the record. From there they made Ambient 2 together and then joined forces for the co-credited 1984 album, The Pearl. A masterpiece in ambience, if not ‘ambient music’.
There is so much great music that Budd had a hand in – I’m still discovering the records and I love some of his work with Guthrie, including the 2014 soundtrack to White Bird In A Blizzard (I’ll probably never see the film, the music is all that matters to me there).
This was a good period for Budd – around 2010-2015, I loved the record Perhaps and Jane 1-11 in particular. Just last week a brand new record by Budd and Guthrie was released, it was recorded in 2013 (Another Flower).
Trips to the library with a toddler were often completed when we had a stack of Budd records for the whole family to listen to; they’d help us all to sleep, they’d assist with the late-night teething issues or the early morning starts. They became ‘the soundtrack to the house’. And if I’m at a loss for anything to listen to I reach for Harold Budd.
In the last decade it’s been Eno, Budd and Morricone. Those are the go-to composers and creators. There are more of course. But Harold Budd has figured high in my regular listening. He was prolific and vital. And this news is gutting.
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R.I.P. Harold Budd