|Always an outlier, Harold Budd enjoys confounding conventional wisdom about ambient music, new age, what have you. Hence his decision in the early '90s to record an album, for Brian Eno's Opal label, devoted to the American landscape--an album of often vaporous melodies intent on figuring the land's geography and history. Budd's a self-admitted devotee of soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone, and his titles alone help conjure the mythical west ("Distant Lights of Olancha Recede," "Place of Dead Roads"), as well as its odd, modern developments ("Aztec Hotel"). Occasional spoken material, a kind of existential cowboy poetry read by Budd, benefits from guitarist Bill Nelson and pedal-steel player B. J. Cole, not to mention viola, harp, and the composer's own array of keyboards. --Marc Weidenbaum
Recorded at: Kingsway USA Recording Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana between March 15 and April 4, 1991. Includes liner notes by Harold Budd.
Whether he is composing his own music or collaborating with the likes of Brian Eno or XTC's Andy Partridge, Harold Budd demonstrates a lively imagination and a love of musical composition. BY THE DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT combines relatively straightforward compositions with airy mood pieces and spoken poetry. The result is a varied and thought-provoking set of the kind of music that can be listened to carefully or allowed to waft over the listener subliminally.
Overall, the 18 tracks are slightly somber and deeply meditative. The poignant, lonely sound of Mabel Wong's viola and the gentle harp of Susan Allen are the most prevalent compositional elements. Each piece conveys a distinctive atmosphere. The lilting "Arcadia" is especially evocative, as is "Child in a Sylvan Field," which incorporates pedal steel guitar to lovely effect. "Down the Slopes to the Meadow (For Ruben Garcia) " and "Blind Bird" have an eerie spaciness that recalls Brian Eno's soundscapes, while "Place of Dead Roads," named for a William Burroughs novel, is light as vapor.
1. Poem: Aztec Hotel
2. Boy About 10
4. Dead Horse Alive With Flies
5. Photo Of Santiago McKinn, The
6. Corpse At The Shooting Gallery, The
7. Albion Farewell (Homage To Deluis, For Gavin Bryars)
8. Poem: Distant Lights Of Olancha Recede
9. Down The Slopes To The Meadow (For Ruben Garcia)
10. She Dances By The Light Of The Silvery Moon
11. Blind Bird
12. Saint's Name Spoken
13. Place Of Dead Roads, The
14. Child In A Sylvan Field, A
15. Poem: Boy About 10
16. Poem: Wings
17. Poem: No Name
18. Poem: Advent