OK, so maybe I've been listening to too much Harold Budd. A friend sent me a copy of Avalon Sutra along with Snow Borne Sorrow when it came out from Samadhisound. It seems like this was just recently, but, in fact, this was nearly four year ago. Prior to Avalon Sutra, I wasn't completely ignorant of Harold Budd's work, I just misattributed his genius to other people. Since then, I've burrowed into his back catalog, coming up with gems like 'The Pearl' and 'Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror'
Today, I'm sufficiently well-versed in the solo works both Eno and Budd to be able to discern what each of them brings to the table when they work on an album together. I have to say that Harold Budd does not get enough credit for these works, grossly overshadowed by Eno's name. Still, Eno is a critical component, supporting, magnifying and, above all, listening. There is something lacking in Harold Budd's follow-up Eno-less works 'Luxa' and 'The White Arcades'. He simply does not have Eno's ear for electronic production.
This is irrelevant when Harold Budd chooses to work with acoustic instruments. 'Avalon Sutra' and 'Perhaps' are stunning works of beauty and simplicity.
Harold Budd tends to favor pentatonics, and the natural modes with lots of nines. I'm also guilty of this. Straight-up Ionian is dull-sounding, so when I want to express joy, I tend to reach for Lydian. In my mind, Lydian is hyper-major. It is almost Citalopram-happy. Elfman uses Lydian a lot, but he seems far more fixated on the tritone aspect; not exploiting the delicate beauty that Harold Budd wrings from the mode.
'An Arc of Doves' is a good example of some Budd/Lydian goodness. If you take a wobbly piano sample, cut off the highs, carefully apply some feedback delay, you're basically there. It is a beautiful sound.
But, to be fair, Harold Budd doesn't have an exclusive right to improvise on piano in Lydian, even if the addition of live resampling brings the whole a bit closer to 'Arc of Doves' territory. This is the first time I've worked with tehn's mlr. I've seen fantastic uses of mlr in a wide range of styles. It is the signature monome application.
A while back, a programmer friend at work opened up the source code for a freely-available application, modified and recompiled it to serve his needs better. This stirred some feelings of envy in me as a non-programmer. How great would it be to take a mature application and make a few tweaks to make it perfect for your needs? Well, if you're familiar with mlr, you may be able to tell I made a few tweaks. Huge thanks to Brian Crabtree for making such a great application and keeping it open.
audio only here
Where Abundance Lies by Matthew G Davidson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.