Brian Eno‘s first collaboration with minimalist composer Harold Budd, Ambient 2: Plateau of Mirror, was a groundbreaking classic of ambient music. Budd and Eno created beautiful soundscapes, haunted by melancholy piano themes.
Their second CD, The Pearl, is even more beautiful.
The Pearl, released in 1984, is a set of tranquil piano tone poems. The music is simple modal music in an ambient style. What makes it so captivating is the way Eno creates evocative spaces for Budd to play within. This has the effect of making the spaces between notes as important as the notes themselves.
Budd is sensitive to this play between the notes and silence, and tailors his music to allow the notes to drift towards silence. Think of Satie played underwater, and you have an approximation of the effect of these pieces.
There are 11 pieces on the CD, each intriguingly titled; “Late October”, “A stream with bright fish”, or “An echo of night”, for example. The CD artwork captures the idea of the pieces perfectly, too. Irregular patches of glistening iridescent water shine against dark pebbles, almost drawing your eye away from a perfect pearl.
This music is understated, but masterful. It may lure you or lull you, but either way, it is irresistible.