Guys… guysguysguysguysguys. If you’re familiar with the ambient genre, you have probably heard the name Harold Budd before. This guy’s on par with the ambient pioneers, like Brian Eno, and Robin Guthrie; Budd’s actually collaborated with the both of them. If you listen to a lot of ambient music, you really have no excuse to not know who Harold Budd is. Anyhow, Bandits of Stature, his latest effort released last year, seems to have been skimmed over by all these year-end lists and publications – what a shame! This neo-classical album is just great for ambiance or thinking with its melancholic mood. Harold Budd doesn’t disappoint with his minimalist composition style. Take a listen to Bandits of Stature on Spotify below.

The Details

Vinyl is limited to 300 and comes with a code for a free download.

Darla is pleased to offer a new record of string quartets by Harold Budd. Bandits of Stature is a first as it comprises 14 compact Budd composed string quartets played by the Formalist Quartet.

Harold Budd is a one-of-a-kind, modern neo-classical artist with a career spanning 40 years. Bandits of Stature has the characteristic Budd minimalism one may expect, yet in new, or classical, form. On Bandits of Stature, he has created 14 elegantly simple, avant-garde string quartets, each with his own unique and subtle tension and abstraction and sometimes-pastoral but as-often otherworldly mood shining through. This is also Budd's most melancholic work ever. It is a work that can only come from an artist with such unique vision and maturity as he. Whether deep dark or bright light, the listener is as always transcended to an enlightened state within the balance of empty space and substance, presented at times with wistful nostalgia, often with great idealism and persistently with love and beauty.

From the classic Brian Eno and Robin Guthrie-produced Harold Budd records, lush with studio-as-instrument creativity and singular ethereal guitar work respectively, up to his most recent album In The Mist, Harold's piano is always recognizable within the first three notes of any song. His style is just that unique. That same melancholic, thoughtful style is present as well in the Budd composed string quartets on Bandits of Stature. He effortlessly manifests more feeling in one album than most artists do over the course of a decade, gives at least as much attention to the negative space as to each phrase and as always exercises a sense of economy in which less is a great deal more.

All Music Guide calls Harold "an American ambient/neo-classical composer". He is absolutely the World's number one minimalist, ambient, modern classical composer. That said, he abhors the word ambient. "Ambient: Every time I read this word I cringe: I've been kidnapped by something I neither know of nor care about; it's better by 1000 times than "New Age" from 2 decades ago, but still..." Although his work is often called ambient, minimal and classical, these labels do no justice to the quiet beauty and singularity of his work.

"Harold is a California original. His music resides where the desert meets the ocean, and a cool, dusty melange emerges; it's sparse, stripped of unnecessary decoration, devoid of sentimentality, yet exploring the deepest emotional verity. Each new piece from Harold arrives like a postcard from some out-of-the-way place where Truth and Beauty are rapturously articulated without uttering a single unnecessary word." - Scott Fraser



1. The Dream of the Girl at the Lonely Desert Cafe
2. Claude Lorrain Avoids the Cinder Block Motel
3. Nicolas Poussin Near 29 Palms
4. Perfume Doesn't Dance
5. Shout (for Jane Maru)
6. The Moss of Imagination
7. Puvis Startled By Joy
8. Seven Colonnades
9. Veil of Orpheus (Cy Twombly's) - Mark Menzies, violin; Harold Budd, piano

String Quartet 2003

10. Haru Spring
11. From the Sea of Changes
12. Bandits of Stature
13. Llano
14. Babylon Balboa

Formalist Quartet:
Andrew Tholl, violin
Mark Menzies, violin
Andrew McIntosh, viola
Ashley Walters, cello

Recorded by Scott Fraser, Architecture, Mt Washington (Los Angeles)
Mixed by Scott Fraser with Harold Budd
Composed by Harold Budd, Toyon Music (BMI)
Title excerpted from "Blazing Firms" by Sandro Chia
Cover painting, Ellen, by Billy Al Bengston

Price $16

Listen on Spotify

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