born on 24/5/1936 in Los Angeles, CA, United States
died on 8/12/2020
|Born|| May 24 1936
Los Angeles, California
|Genres|| Ambient music
|Occupations||Musician, composer, poet, professor|
|Labels||Darla Records, Samadhi Sound, Samadhisound, [New World Records], All Saints Records,|
Harold Budd (born May 24, 1936) is an American ambient/avant-garde composer and poet. Born in Los Angeles, California, he was raised in the Mojave Desert, and was inspired at an early age by the humming tone caused by wind blown across telephone wires.
Education and academic career
Budd's career as a composer began in 1962. In the following years, he gained a notable reputation in the local avant-garde community. In 1966 he graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in musical composition.
As his career progressed, his compositions became increasingly minimal. Among his more experimental works were two drone music pieces, "Coeur d'Orr" and "The Oak of the Golden Dreams". "The Oak of the Golden Dreams" was based on the Balinese "Slendro" scale. After composing a long-form gong solo titled "Lirio", he felt he had reached the limits of his experiments in minimalism and the avant-garde. He retired temporarily from composition in 1970 and began a teaching career at the California Institute of the Arts.
"The road from my first colored graph piece in 1962 to my renunciation of composing in 1970 to my resurfacing as a composer in 1972 was a process of trying out an idea and when it was obviously successful abandoning it. The early graph piece was followed by the Rothko orchestra work, the pieces for Source Magazine, the Feldman-derived chamber works, the pieces typed out or written in longhand, the out-and-out conceptual works among other things, and the model drone works [which include the sax and organ Coeur d'Orr and The Oak of the Golden Dream, the latter based on the Balinese "slendro" scale which scale I used again 18 years later on The Real Dream Of Sails [from the 1988 CD The White Arcades].
"In 1970 with the Candy-Apple Revision (unspecified D-flat major) and Lirio (solo gong "for a long duration") I realized I had minimalized myself out of a career. It had taken ten years to reduce my language to zero but I loved the process of seeing it occur and not knowing when the end would come. By then I had opted out of avant-garde music generally; it seemed self-congratulatory and risk-free and my solution as to what to do next was to do nothing, to stop completely.
"I resurfaced as an artist in 1972 with Madrigals of the Rose Angel, the first of what would be a cycle of works under the collective title The Pavilion of Dreams. Madrigals refused to accommodate or even acknowledge any issues in new music. The entire aesthetic was an existential prettiness; not the Platonic to Kalon, but simply pretty: mindless, shallow and utterly devastating. Female chorus, harp and percussion seemed like a beautiful start. Its first performance was at a Franciscan church in California conducted by Daniel Lentz." [Budd, Harold, excerpt from liner notes for The Pavilion of Dreams, dated Los Angeles, October 1991.]
Composer and recording artist
Two years later, while still retaining his teaching career, he resurfaced as a composer. Spanning from 1972-1975 he created four individual works under the collective title The Pavilion of Dreams. The style of these works was an unusual blend of popular jazz and the avant-garde. In 1976 he resigned from the institute and began recording his new compositions, produced by British ambient pioneer Brian Eno. Two years later, Harold Budd's debut album The Pavilion of Dreams was released.
Since then he has developed a unique and powerful style of ambient music. His two collaborations with Brian Eno, The Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl, established his trademark atmospheric piano style. On Lovely Thunder he introduced subtle electronic textures. His thematic 2000 release The Room saw a return to a more minimalist approach.
In 2003, Daniel Lanois, the renowned producer of U2 and Bob Dylan, and occasional collaborator of Brian Eno, recorded an impromtu performance of Harold playing the piano in his Los Angeles living room, unaware, and thus realized the album La Bella Vista.
His album Avalon Sutra from 2004 was billed as "Harold Budd's Last Recorded Work" by the record label Samadhi Sound. Their press release continued: "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 on December 6, 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 nine 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. A second collaborative effort with Wright, Candylion followed in 2009, again on Darla Records.
- 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 All Saints Records 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 All Saints Records
- 1991 By the Dawn's Early Light (with Bill Nelson) [All Saints Records]
- 1992 Music for 3 Pianos (with Daniel Lentz & Ruben Garcia) [All Saints Records]
- 1994 She Is a Phantom [New Albion]
- 1994 Through the Hill (with Andy Partridge) [All Saints Records]
- 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, December 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
- 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).
- The indie rock band Rothko has a song titled "Harold Budd" on their album In the Pulse of An Artery (which uses a sample from Budd's "Boy About 10" from his album By the Dawn's Early Light.)
- Harold Budd and Eugene Bowen contributed the track "Wonder's Edge" to the Cold Blue label compilation.
- The Harold Budd track "Balthus Bemused By Colour" from his album The White Arcades is included as part of the 70 Minutes of Madness DJ mix by Coldcut.
- On saxophonist Marion Brown's 1975 album Vista, Harold Budd plays celeste and gong on the track Bismillahi 'Rrahmani 'Rrahim, a shorter version of the same composition on Budd's 1978 album The Pavilion of Dreams (which also includes Marion Brown as saxophone soloist).
- In 1961, while in the military, Harold Budd briefly played drums in an Army band with legendary avant-garde saxophonist Albert Ayler.
- New Albion Records Harold Budd page
- Samadhisound Harold Budd page
- Ambience for the Masses Harold Budd page
- Harold Budd: American Vision article from Sound On Sound magazine
- soundNET Concert Archives A rare live performance of works by Harold Budd (September 18, 2004) [streaming Quicktime audio]
- Somnambule Review of Harold Budd "Farewell Concert" at Brighton Dome (May 21, 2005)
- Harold Budd: Harold in May article from The Independent (May 8, 2005)
- New Age music
- Electronic music
- Ambient music
- Brian Eno