Here's my NPR tribute to the wondrous and wise music of Harold Budd.
Who lived in South Pasadena and who I ran into on the street briefly a few years ago when I was out walking with Geeta Dayal (who knows everybody). By all accounts, he was as lovely a person as his music.
(See bottom of post for choice quotes by Budd and about Budd)
I reviewed the Cocteaus collab The Moon and the Melodies in '86 - I'm not sure I had a very clear idea who Harold Budd was then. The LP was the spur for some very flowery imagery. Maybe I'll dig it out later if it's not too embarrassing....
Cocteau Twins "Eyes Are Mosaic ft. Harold Budd", as if this was a modern rap'n'B record! YouTube is pretty darn lax as an archive - of course it should be credited to Harold Budd. Elizabeth Fraser. Robin Guthrie. Simon Raymonde.
His music lends itself to the infinitely extended remix
Facts I wish I had known so that I could have included in the piece
That he taught himself to play the piano in his late thirties, in order to be able the music he wished to compose.
Things Harold said
"Being immediately pretty is the most important component."
"I really like to find as much life as possible in the smallest amount of material. A very simple scale, a relationship of note against note, especially a sustained note; I milk everything for all it's worth."
"One of the things was I got profoundly upset and bored to death with the avant-garde music that was being practiced around the world—the Western world—at that time. It seemed self-congratulatory, and for a small cadre of snobs, and I refused to go on with it."
"I really minimalised myself out of a career"
I cannot play the piano. I can play what I play, I can play me, but I have a dyslexia when reading music. I’m not a professional musician. I hack away at it and the piano is convenient. By no means would a proper pianist consider me one.”
"I slipped back into discovering something that no-one else was doing, or was likely to do in the very near future. I divorced myself from modern music in a sense, and began to develop a language which I thought was honest to God me, and totally outside of competition with my fellow composers.”
"I admire painters very much and I secretly wish that I were doing that"
"“Brilliant blasts of colour that simply engulfed you” - on Mark Rothko, Ellesworth Kelly, and other painters he admired.
"It's curious about The Plateaux of Mirror. It came so quickly and so easily that it was kind of a phantom"
"This whole 'new age' business is very distasteful to me. I don't like being even considered in that “category and I have almost no respect for it at all... It's very lightweight and very bothersome to me. .. I don't think it has anything to do with the actual truth about the meaning of the music”
"That one frosted my balls so much. I was just enraged every time I’d walk into a Tower Records or Virgin Megastore or something like that. There I was in the new age category and I just thought ‘Jesus Christ, how can I escape from these mindless bastards?"
"When I did the White Arcades album, I went to the studio with a list of titles and that's all."
"I've never worked with musicians who know how to read music. So that's always swell for me,
"A mature artist ought to be able to make a good record from the contents of a cutlery drawer."
"The one collaboration that never occurred and never would occur would be David Sylvian, whose work I admire above all others. I just love everything he does. There is a really good reason, it’s because although one thing is good and another thing is good, putting them together doesn’t make it twice as good. In fact it could be a disaster, and I’ve never wanted that to happen."
Things people said about Harold
"A great abstract painter trapped in the body of a musician" - Brian Eno.
"I would set up a sound, he would improvise to it, and occasionally I would add something: but it was mainly him performing in a sound-world I had created” - Eno, on The Plateaux of Mirror.
“Harold Budd's intention was to make what he called "eternally pretty music", and his way of composing was to write a piece of music, then take out all the notes you didn't like! - Eno
"He was really down to earth, a ham 'n' eggs kind of guy" - Cocteau Twins, via David Toop.