Friday, 30 September 2016

Harold Budd/Brian Eno - Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror (1980)

Ambient magister Eno was introduced to US pianist/composer Harold Budd when the former produced & released the latter's Pavilion Of Dreams in 1978.  This follow-up collaboration, Volume 2 in Eno's Ambient series (Volume 1 was the seminal Music For Airports) puts Budd's gentle, "soft pedal" pianism front and centre, with Eno supplying soundscapes from which to build on, and adding varying degrees of synth accompaniment.

From the first moments of First Light, it's clear what an inspired meeting this was.  The track titles are perfectly evocative of the sound worlds they create, none more so than this opener as dawn breaks on a misty, dewy autumnal countryside.  Budd is on acoustic piano for all but two tracks - Wind In Lonely Fences, and the title track - the latter another high point on an album full of them, with an echoing chime-like tone and a proto-Twin Peaks backdrop from Eno.
Things get only slightly more uptempo on An Arc Of Doves, with rolling notes from Budd (although he's still utilising as few as possible, as per his brilliantly effective modus operandi) and a warm blanket of Eno synth.  The only other instrument that makes an appearance on the album is a gosammer wall of wordless voices on Not Yet Remembered, cooing a melody that Budd played by transatlantic phonecall to Eno - who, true to form, promptly reversed it.  It should be obvious by now that this album is one of my most enduring desert-island favourites; as long as I can swap the desert island for a windswept Hebridean island to get the optimum environment for it.

Among Fields Of Crystal

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