Sunday, 17 May 2020

Harold Budd / Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois ‎– The Pearl (1984)

Style: Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Editions EG, Polydor, Virgin

A1.   Late October
A2.   A Stream With Bright Fish
A3.   The Silver Ball
A4.   Against The Sky
A5.   Lost In The Humming Air
B1.   Dark-Eyed Sister
B2.   Their Memories
B3.   The Pearl
B4.   Foreshadowed
B5.   An Echo Of Night
B6.   Still Retur

Composed By – Eno, Budd
Producer – Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois

Hearing Budd's piano slowly fade in with the start of "Late October" is just one of those perfect moments -- it's something very distinctly him, made even more so with Eno's touches and slight echo, and it signals the start of a fine album indeed. Acting in some respects as the understandable counterpart to Ambient 2, with the same sense of hushed, ethereal beauty the partnership brought forth on that album, The Pearl is so ridiculously good it instantly shows up much of the mainstream new age as the gloopy schlock that it often is. Eno himself is sensed as a performer on the album, if not by his absence then by his very understated presence. The merest hints of synth and whisper play around Budd's performances, ensuring the latter takes center stage. Eno and Daniel Lanois handle the production side of things, their teamwork once again overseeing a winner. When they bring themselves a little more to the fore, it still always is in the subtlest of ways, as with the artificially higher-pitched notes from Budd on "Lost in the Humming Air." Part of the distinct charm of the album is how the song titles perfectly capture what the music sounds like -- "A Stream With Bright Fish" is almost self-defining. Another key point is how Budd truly captures what ambience in general can and does mean. "Against the Sky" is a strong example -- it can be totally concentrated upon or left to play as atmospherics and is also at once both truly beautiful and not a little haunting in a disturbing sense. Other highlight tracks include the deceptively simple title track, as serene a piece of music as was ever recorded, and the closing "Still Return," bringing The Pearl to a last peak of beauty.
Ned Raggett / AllMusic

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