Week 81: “Campanile” by Harold Budd

If you’re looking for reasons to take an interest in the American composer Harold Budd, you’ll find two in the opening sentences of his Wikipedia entry. First, it states that he was raised in the Mojave Desert. Second, he was “inspired at an early age by the humming tone caused by wind blowing across telephone wires”. Now I don’t know about you, but anyone who’s raised in the desert and spends their youth transfixed by the wind blowing over telephone wires is a person I’m up for learning about.

And I’m glad I did, because Harold Budd is an intriguing guy. Apart from being a fascinating minimalist composer with dozens of albums to his credit since the 1970s, he’s worked with the likes of Brian Eno and U2, and taught at the legendary school CalArts.

This song is taken from the 2003 album “La Bella Vista”. The album is intriguing in itself, in that Budd was completely unaware that it was being recorded. Famed U2 producer Daniel Lanois was hanging out at Budd’s house when Budd decided to play a bit of piano for his guests. Lanois surreptitiously recorded Budd’s improvisations, and the result was “La Bella Vista”.

Oh, and Wikipedia also notes that Budd once composed a “long-form gong solo”. If you’re not intrigued by that, you will never be intrigued by anything.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The way he wanders along the keyboard makes it feel aimless.

2. The way he keeps the damper pedal down makes it feel endless.

3. The way he plays so lightly makes it feel effortless.

Recommended listening activity:

Yawning so hard that your toes point and tears come to your eyes.

Buy it here.