Harold Budd & Clive Wright: Candylion

Candylion is as lovely as Harold Budd and Clive Wright's previous collaboration, A Song for Lost Blossoms. The artists hardly require introduction, with Budd, of course, long admired for recordings such as The Pavilion of Dreams, The Pearl, and Avalon Sutra, and Wright a founding member of Cock Robin. This time around, new styles and colours are added to the duo's palette—drums, harp, (virtual) strings, choral, and brass—but the meditative and soothing ambiance of the prior release remain. By not appearing on every one of the dozen settings, Budd's trademark reverb-drenched piano is less prominent than one might expect though when it does appear (e.g., “Exit Plan (Perfume)”), it's immediately identifiable as him. Wright's guitar playing (electric guitar, slide, guitar synth, Ebow) is typically positioned at center stage, which is far from objectionable when his playing style eschews abrasion for serenity and exaltation.

That the material extends into new territories is established at the outset by “Sunday After the War” where the swish of George Zelenz's drum brushes and hi-hats and the pluck of an acoustic bass anchor Wright's limpid guitar ruminations and Budd's orchestral support. Similarly, the inclusion of Ray Woods' propulsive drumming gives “Beautiful Intruder” a soul-jazz dimension not present elsewhere. “The Bells” exudes the delicate stateliness of a traditional Japanese composition, and the unexpected appearance of choral singing transports one to a reverberant, ancient cathedral during “In the Midst of Life.” “On Ships that Sail Away” finds Patti Hood's harp strums and Budd's lush synthetic backdrop providing a splendorous backing for Wright's wistful slide guitar playing. With gossamer synth swells swirling radiantly while pretty electric guitar and piano melodies gently intertwine, “Ribbons Everywhere” is characteristic of the album, though the duo occasionally opts for ponderous and somber moods elsewhere (“Eaux d'artifice,” “She Slipped Through the Door,” “Mlle. Ice”).

July 2009