Perhaps the term avant- garde might set you up for Varèse-style percussion, insane time signatures and clanging dissonance, but keyboardist/composer Harold Budd is operating at the other end of the spectrum altogether. Tiring of the second Viennese school as a music student, he became fascinated by modern pioneers John Cage and Terry Riley, who informed his 1970 release The Oak Of The Golden Dreams.
That droning, rather testing experimental 18-minute track opens this look at his stunning catalogue, but once you’re past that you’re into quite the most beautiful selection of ambient, minimal compositions this side of Brian Eno (who appears on the track that lends its name to the collection).
Bismillahi ‘Rhaman ‘Rrahim is another 18-minuter, but you sink into this like some warm, rejuvenating pool. Ooze Out And Away, Somehow is his ‘86 collaboration with Cocteau Twins, the two parties chiming both aesthetically and tonally; the melodic, lone piano of The Messenger is at odds with the minimal, percussive insistence of Hand 20 (from his album with XTC’s Andy Partridge) and there isn’t one of these 18 tracks that isn’t thoughtful, nourishing and deeply moving.
Add to this The Ambient Century author Mark Prendergast’s informative liner notes, and this is further proof that All Saints really have their act together.