Lost in the Humming Air (Music Inspired by Harold Budd)
Saying that Harold Budd has exerted an influence upon today's electronic musicians would, of course, be a huge understatement. Though the past years have witnessed a steady stream of Budd solo (2011's In The Mist on Darla, for example) and collaborative albums (with Cocteau Twins, among others), no mention of Budd's career would be complete without acknowledging classic early recordings such as Pavilion of Dreams and his collaboration with Brian Eno, The Plateaux of Mirror (Budd also has the distinction of being one of a small number whose work appeared on Eno's Obscure label in the ‘70s).
Wanting to pay respect to Budd in some way, Rafael Anton Irisarri and Marsen Jules decided upon a musical tribute in the form of a compilation that would feature contributions from the cream of the electronic-ambient crop, as it were. Probably the number one question that arises is: do the artists involved try to channel Budd in their pieces or present their material more in the style with which their work has come to be known? The answer is, frankly, both. Certainly there's a goodly amount of reverberant piano playing of the kind one hears on any given Budd recording, yet at the same time one hears within a particular artist's contribution clear signatures of that individual's style. For example, Deaf Center's “Plateaux,” while it does include piano playing, is as moody a gloomscape as anything heard on Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland's own Type albums. In “Rye Fields,” Loscil (Scott Morgan) backs a lovely series of delicate piano strokes with a becalmed, Loscil-styled backdrop, while the piano playing in Irisarri's “Gloaming” comes closest to matching Budd's own sound.
The seventy-one minute album offers a scenic and pleasurable journey that's stylistically pretty much what one might expect from an album featuring Marsen Jules, Biosphere, Andrew Thomas, and the like. Some of the material is lovely—no surprise there—and standouts include the luscious ambient moodscapes created by Thomas, Jules, Christopher Willits, and Taylor Deupree (“Hushhh (Variation 2),” “Sunrise On 3rd Avenue,” “Olancha Hello,” and “Sleepover,” respectively). In addition, Andreas Tilliander contributes a severely dubbed-out track (“Harold Dubb”) to the project, whereas bvdub brings a slightly different twist to it by including the piano-playing of his mother, Criss Van Wey, on his “My Father, My Friend” opus.As a sign of the esteem with which Budd is held, John Twells departed from his customary rule of not participating in compilations, and consequently contributed the haunting, hiss-drenched Xela setting “The Only Rose” to the project (though eschewed piano altogether and constructed the material using analogue synthesizer, voice, and pedals only). It's worth noting that all artists involved donated their tracks, and all profits are being directed to a charity project of Budd's choosing. In the liner notes, Irisarri declares, “His music has inspired me immensely over the years, helping me discover my own vocabulary in the process,” a sentiment one presumes would be echoed by every one of the thirteen contributors.