Harold Budd: Avalon Sutra (2xCD, Darla, February 2014)

This is very much a release of two halves. (Actually, it’s a re-release, for its tenth birthday.) The first disc is a collection of short chamber pieces, 14 of them totalling 46 minutes. They take in a range of influences, from English pastoral (there is one track that reminds me of Vaughan Williams) to Middle Eastern (most obviously the tracks Arabesque 1, 2, and 3). The mood is mostly somewhere between the quietly contemplative and the gently melancholic. The instrumentation seems like pretty standard classical, with just a teeny bit of work done in the studio. It’s warm, emotional without being overblown, and a nice set of work by itself.

But it’s the second disc which really gets me here (predictably enough, given my predilections). This is a single 69-minute track called As Long As I Can Hold My Breath (By Night), a ‘remix’ by Akira Rabelais of a piece on the first disc and a masterpiece of minimal ambient. Two notes on a cello run through the whole thing like a heartbeat, around which a handful of elements are wound, each just a few notes long. This sort of thing is really hard to pull off, and can easily get wearing, but here it’s utterly entrancing, it calms me and pulls me in and every time I listen it ends leaving me wanting more. Just a magical piece of work.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Modern Classical / Ambient.

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