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24 July 2013

Brian Eno/Harold Budd with Daniel Lanois - 'The Pearl' (Editions EG)

It's a summer day and my window is open while I revisit The Pearl, an album that I remember as being deceptively intangible, always slipping away from a centre. With the voices of children, playing in a nearby park, creeping in with the various wind, traffic and bird sounds, it's difficult to distinguish Eno's production techniques  on this album from what's drifting in. Drift it does, and I realise as soon as I pull this off my shelf that I should really file it under B for Budd (and that is in fact where it will be refiled) but I imagined that one day I would have The Plateaux of Mirrors to put alongside it, which never happened. Budd's piano is the constant, sometimes glowing with a harmonic resonance that is beautiful if a bit easy. It's not a thick sound, and when it really gets sparse, as on 'Against The Sky', allowing its minor key intervals to wire-frame a mood, it's an exceptional entry. Daniel Lanois gets a co-credit here and I'm not sure what he's done and what's Eno, but it's all so delicate that I'm sure the party sessions afterwards were legendary. If you haven't heard this record but know anything about these musicians, you can probably guess what it sounds like. "New age" is the term often thrown about and it's definitely a step closer to it than than, say, Music for Airports - in terms of how 'active' it is, and how much it follows musical conventions of melody/harmony. It's somber as it should be, and because this is such a pre-defined concept there's no chances to be taken. I like this album - I don't listen to it regularly, but at any volume it has the power to completely transform a situation, even if it's more felt than heard. My Eno trip ends here as I don't think his later work tends to appear on vinyl, so no Nerve Net for us.

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