Land­mark am­bi­ent works re-pressed.

Prog - - Intro - Ian FoRT­naM

Bring­ing to­gether three evoca­tive am­bi­ent col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween two of the most in­trigu­ing, if over­looked, artists ex­tant (the third fea­tures the late min­i­mal­ist com­poser/ pi­anist Ruben Garcia), this stylishly pre­sented, three-disc vinyl pack­age of­fers ideal ac­com­pa­ni­ment to a lan­guorous sun­lounger ses­sion, chill­ing adrift in fu­tur­ist dystopia.



While John Foxx had probably en­joyed more pop­ulist plau­dits as both ap­po­sitely an­gu­lar vo­cal­ist with the orig­i­nal Ul­travox! (that cru­cial ex­cla­ma­tion point in­di­cat­ing their pre-Midge in­car­na­tion) and solo pi­o­neer of Me­ta­matic elec­tropop, his role when em­bark­ing upon Translu­cence and Drift Mu­sic with Harold Budd in 2003 was more that of stu­dent than master. While that same year had seen Foxx re­lease two vol­umes of his own Cathe­dral Oceans am­bi­ent project, Budd’s am­bi­ent CV was long, es­teemed, and pretty well in­com­pa­ra­ble.

From study­ing un­der Stravin­sky as­so­ciate In­golf Dahl in early 60s California, Budd in­creas­ingly em­braced the avant-garde, ex­plored the pos­si­bil­i­ties of min­i­mal­ism and ex­per­i­mented with modal drones. He’d ar­guably al­ready grad­u­ated from en­fant ter­ri­ble to el­der states­man by the time he worked along­side pro­ducer Brian Eno on ’78’s The Pav­il­ion Of Dreams. He’d al­ready iden­ti­fied and fully de­vel­oped his trade­mark ‘soft pedal’ piano style across at­mo­spheric, min­i­mal and dis­creet sound­scapes the like of which Eno was cor­ralling on his ex­per­i­men­tal Ob­scure im­print un­der the catch-all term ‘am­bi­ent’. Budd found him­self ‘filed un­der am­bi­ent’ against his will (‘kid­napped’, as he later put it). Whether he liked it or not, he was un­com­monly adept at it. Budd be­came the go-to guy for a stark, sub­lim­i­nal sound­scape. Eno, Bill Nel­son, Andy Par­tridge, Jah Wob­ble and Jaki Liebezeit had al­ready come calling be­fore Budd set to work with Foxx.

While Translu­cence ex­hibits Budd’s Satie-es­que skill for cap­tur­ing moods on a del­i­cately-struck piano key­board, syn­the­sis­ers pre­dom­i­nate on Drift Mu­sic, leav­ing it more redo­lent of Cathe­dral Oceans. Nighthawks, mean­while, recorded with Ruben Garcia, is more cine­matic in tone, dis­turb­ing found sounds oc­ca­sion­ally jar the reverie to ar­rest­ing ef­fect, but over­all you’re in safe hands. Ul­ti­mately, this triple set should be an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of any se­ri­ous afi­cionado of am­bi­ent mu­sic’s collection, a thought­fully pre­sented and beau­ti­ful com­bi­na­tion of the neo-clas­si­cal and the sub­tly pro­gres­sive. While there are ar­eas and at­mos­pheres rem­i­nis­cent of Bowie’s in­stru­men­tal Ber­lin pe­riod, Clus­ter, the Tangs and the ubiq­ui­tous Eno here, Budd and Foxx (with or with­out Garcia) cre­ate a sin­gu­lar mood that you re­ally ought to in­ves­ti­gate.

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