On Harold Budd – A Curatorial Statement by Paul Whitney
January 18, 2016
His music has a toughness behind this beautiful veneer.
Harold Budd’s appearance at Club PuSh on January 23rd offers a rare opportunity to hear a unique musical visionary with an unconventional yet influential career spanning over 45 years. With more than 40 recordings touching on diverse – but fundamentally connected – themes, his music consistently embodies an “existential prettiness” that places it apart from much ambient music with which it is often and incorrectly grouped.
Budd’s musical origins were in jazz – during a stint in the army he was the drummer in jazz icon Albert Ayler’s band. He subsequently studied musical composition and taught at the California Institute of the Arts before leaving in 1976 to record The Pavilion of Dreams with producer Brian Eno, accompanied by Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars and saxophone great Marion Brown. This record marked the emergence of Budd as a composer, showcasing what he would later refer to as his “soft pedal” approach to the piano. Budd went on to record two collaborations with Eno (and co-producer Daniel Lanois), including the seminal album The Pearl, and a string of recordings with a who’s who of British avant-guard popular music: XTC’s Andy Partridge, Jah Wobble, Bill Nelson, John Foxx, Cocteau Twins and Robin Guthrie. Budd’s recording career continues, with very occasional live performances, despite several announcements of “retirement.” Newcomers to Budd’s music can experience the range of his work in the two-disc career retrospective Wind in Lonely Fences 1970-2011, or the collection of seven early releases in Buddbox (both issued in 2013 on All Saints Records).
Harold is a great abstract painter trapped in the body of a musician.
As well as his musical works, Budd has published two books of poetry and drawings with the Vancouver imprint Heavenly Monkey. A new collection, Aurora’s Tears, will be published later this spring, presenting 59 poems written during Budd’s recent collaborations with painter and filmmaker Jane Maru, accompanied by by his unique “arabesque” drawings, Jane’s batik paintings, and an introduction by David Sylvian. The PuSh event is built around this collaboration and the poems it inspired: Budd and accompaniest Bradford Ellis will perform a series of improvisations, interspersed with Maru reading a selection of poems from Aurora Teardrops. In celebration of Budd’s appearance at Club PuSh, Heavenly Monkey is publishing a sampler collecting nine of Budd’s poems, under the title Sunblind Highway. The chapbook, which was printed letterpress and limited to just 100 copies, will be for sale at the show.
Budd described the trio’s recent sold-out performance at The Kitchen in New York as “gorgeous, absolutely beautiful”. The concert at Club PuSh provides a Vancouver audience the opportunity to experience the magic conjured by this unique and important artist.
One of the great Californian composers
Paul Whitney is the former head of the Vancouver Public Library and a lifelong music fan. He is a member of the PuSh Leaders Council.
Catch Harold Budd at one of two rare appearances in Vancouver for the 2016 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Join us on January 23 for A Conversation with Harold Budd –free–4PM at BAF Studio and An Evening with Harold Budd, 8PM at Club PuSh at The Fox Cabaret. Book tickets to Harold Budd’s performance on your PuSh Pass, Youth Passport or as single tickets online.