Harold Budd: “Dark Star” (Abandoned Cities, Cantil 1984)
Harold Budd’s legendary status as an original in the field of instrumental and ambient music is irrefutable (even as he’s traditionally resisted being pigeonholed as an “ambient” composer), and yet I’ve only properly heard a few of his works. Back in 1993 I received a promo copy of Virgin’s A Brief History of Ambient Vol. 1, a 2-disc set that really is a pretty fantastic dip into the ambient pool. It’s often limited to excerpts or shorter pieces from a variety of artists running the gamut timewise, but of course it included seminal works from Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Jon Hassell, Roger Eno, and, of course, Harold Budd. “Dark Star” is the first long half of his 1984 release Abandoned Cities, and, prior to poking around online, I’d never heard it before. Its combo of dirge-like guitar and droning pads lends it a hazy psychedelia and somber mood that shows off a different side of his talents from his signature, “soft pedal” piano.