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Eraldo Bernocchi and Harold Budd - Music for Fragments From the Inside

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Artist: Eraldo Bernocchi and Harold Budd

Album: Music for Fragments From the Inside

Label: Sub Rosa

Review date: Sep. 16, 2005

For more than three decades, composer-pianist Harold Budd has been creating mysterious and elegant music. From the moody, smeared aquarelles of his work with Brian Eno, to the desert geographies and geometric patterns on his record Luxa, to the almost-jazz beatnik romanticism of his recent solo work, Budd has always offered cool and enigmatic music that often turns out to be unashamedly lovely and passionately sensual at its core. There’s something nocturnal and yearning about much of Budd’s work; a longing toward deep desert visions or profoundly beatific architectures: open spaces, whether infinite or enclosed.

A sense of sonic architecture is well-served on Music for Fragments From the Inside, Budd’s collaboration with Italian composer and sound-designer Eraldo Bernocchi. The seven long movements were recorded live in an Italian palazzo, to accompany an installation by video artist Petulia Mattioli. Taken out of the context of the installation, Bernocchi’s electronic score succeeds on at least two counts: defining a space for listening, and building a scaffold for Budd’s piano constructions.

Bernocchi’s music tends toward the stark and spacious. It is eclectic in its influences: there are hints of eerie Zawinul/Weather Report lyricism at times, along with touches of hermetic electronica reminiscent of, say, Pole or Aphex Twin. And if occasionally Bernocchi leans a bit too heavily on down-tempo ambient Euro-techno grooves, he also redeems himself with Stockhausen-esque phase sweeps and sonar blips. At his best, he creates an ideal open structure upon which Budd’s melodies can take root and rise, like ivy on a wall.

Budd’s gifts as a composer seems to be intertwined with his gifts as a pianist: the harmonically ambiguous chord structures and heart-rending arpeggiated melodies that are his hallmark seem to grow organically from his touch on the keyboard, his approach to the sustain and volume pedals. Budd seems to be listening microscopically – to timbre; to harmonic haze; to pure melody – as he plays, compelling us to listen ever closer.

In a sense, Bernocchi has created and scored something like a Piano Concerto for Harold Budd: Budd gets to touch on just about every aspect of his style during the 75-minute course. And there’s even a sort of instant Zen cadenza, when Budd breathes out a gentle – but breathtaking – solo arpeggio that summons up ghosts of the sublime melodies from his Eno collaborations The Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl.

Harold Budd has recently announced his retirement from recording, stating something to the affect that he has said all he has to say. But he’s left behind plenty of fascinating recorded music for the rest of us. Whether or not it was intended to be so, Music for Fragments From the Inside is unique in the Harold Budd discography for the way it sheds light on so many different facets of the composer/pianist’s subtle, hypnotic artistry.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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