Pop Albums: Harold Budd & Hector Zazou Glyph Made to Measure MTM 37

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The Independent Culture
Like drum 'n' bass, ambient is a genre which relies on making a little go a very long way; the resultant glut of weedy minimalist pastiches barely bears a cursory listen for the most part, but this collaboration between Harold Budd and Hector Zazou demonstrates better than any recent offering how the spaces between the sounds can be made pregnant with possibility.

On "Pandas in Tandem", the ghost of Erik Satie treads lightly over a shuffle breakbeat; the result is fragile and crystalline, as tentatively pristine as snowflakes. Elsewhere, heavy rhythmic breathing carries "Around the Corner from Everywhere"; slivers of what sounds like hammered dulcimer undulate through "Johnny Cake", and clarinets collude conspiratorially on "As Fast as I Could Look Away She was Still There".

BJ Cole adds a lustrous haze of pedal-steel guitar tones to "Reflected in the Eye of a Dragon Fly". Sometimes there are trumpets, and sometimes guitars intrude. Sometimes Budd recites a poem. But nothing endangers the fragile poise which Budd and Zazou sustain throughout, and there is never the slightest suggestion that any of these pieces are in thrall to arbitrary rhythmic fashions. It is all beautifully simple, and simply beautiful.