Harold Budd | Avalon Sutra

Samadhisound | 2CD

After nearly three decades of recording, the news that this will be the last album by noted pianist and composer Harold Budd, ensures that 'Avalon Sutra' will be embraced as a marker - the end of an era certainly. Anyone who's aware of Budd's accomplished forays between minimalism and ambient music will likely know what to expect, familiar territory no question, but few tread this ground with as much grace as Budd.

Familiar phrases abound: anguished piano and the most delicately suspended string arrangements, hovering as if glistening amidst heat-haze shimmer. Warm swells of sound, Budd's compositions are imbued with an unmistakeably melancholy quality that marks them out - they rip gently at the edges of the heart.

There's a robustness to 'Avalon Sutra' that is so often lacking in others who mine similarly fertile territory, a palette of sounds locked together, adrift on ardent harmonies. The gentle swells of 'Little Heart' ebb and flow, fading into 'How Vacantly You Stare At Me', four minutes of effortless grace and gentleness which Budd sustains until the closing track 'As Long As I Can Hold My Breath' a quiet valediction, a stolen backwards glance.

As if the fact that this will be Budd's last release isn't enough, Samadhisound generously include an additional seventy minute version - the word remix would be too simplistic - of the album's final track by Akira Rabelais. There's no question that Rabelais is an artist who's time has come. His careful works have slowly but surely marked him out as a gifted musician, and it's a fitting tribute to his skill that Budd has so generously incorporated him in his final release.

'As Long As I Can Hold My Breath (By Night)' unfolds over its gentle mass slowly. Like the slow cracks of a huge glacier, it shifts imperceptibly, edging closer towards the sea, where it will inevitably melt, swallowed like a lost memory... marking a fond farewell to one of minimalism's most consistent composers.


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