Harold Budd (
May 24 1936) is an American ambient/ avant-gardecomposer. 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
His 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 Californiawith a degree in musical composition.
As his career progressed, his compositions became increasingly minimal. Among his more experimental works were two drone 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 minimalismand the avant-garde. He retired temporarily from composition in 1970 and began a teaching career at the California Institute of the Arts.
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.
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 don’t 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 Samadhisoundreleased "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 6, the album is only available as a digital download.
Samadhisound released a podcast of Harold Budd in conversation with
Akira Rabelaisin 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 Recordsreleased two CDs by Robin Guthrieand 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".
*1970 "The Oak of the Golden Dreams" / "Coeur D'Orr" (with works by
Richard Maxfield) [New World Records]
The Pavilion of Dreams" [Editions EG]
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]
Lovely Thunder" [Editions EG]
The Moon and the Melodies" (with Cocteau Twins) [4AD] (record credits Fraser, Guthrie and Raymonde by name as opposed to Cocteau Twins)
*1987 "" (with
Gavin Bryars& Jon Hassell) [Sub Rosa]
The White Arcades" [Opal]
By the Dawn's Early Light" (with Bill Nelson) [Opal]
Music for 3 Pianos" (with Daniel Lentz & Ruben Garcia) [Hannibal]
*1994 "She is a Phantom" [New Albion]
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)
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 Brazilliaand 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]
Translucence/Drift Music" (with John Foxx) [Edsel]
Avalon Sutra / As Long as I Can Hold My Breath" ( Samadhi Sound)
Music for 'Fragments from the Inside'" (with Eraldo Bernocchi) [Sub Rosa]
Mysterious Skin - Music from the Film" (with Robin Guthrie) [Commotion]
*2007 "Perhaps" (
After The Night Falls" (with Robin Guthrie) Darla Records
Before The Day Breaks" (with Robin Guthrie) Darla Records
*2008 "A Song For Lost Blossoms" (with Clive Wright)
* 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 Amorfon2007).
* The indie rock band
Rothkohas 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
* 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 Brownas saxophone soloist).
* In 1961, while in the military, Harold Budd briefly played drums in an Army band with legendary avant-garde saxophonist
* [http://www.newalbion.com/NA_Artists/Budd_H/Budd_H.htm New Albion Records] Harold Budd page
* [http://www.samadhisound.com/haroldbudd/ Samadhisound] Harold Budd page
* [http://www.sleepbot.com/ambience/page/budd.html Ambience for the Masses] Harold Budd page
* [http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_articles/jan97/haroldbudd.html Harold Budd: American Vision] article from Sound On Sound magazine
* [http://www.soundnet.org/concerts/mov_refs/2004.shtml#budd soundNET Concert Archives] A rare live performance of works by Harold Budd (
September 18, 2004) [streaming Quicktime audio]
* [http://www.eleventhvolume.com/reviews/concerts/files/harold_budd.html Somnambule] Review of Harold Budd "Farewell Concert" at Brighton Dome (
May 21, 2005)
* [http://arts.independent.co.uk/music/features/article220720.ece Harold Budd: Harold in May] article from
The Independent( May 8, 2005)
New Age music
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