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*** HAROLD BUDD, "The Room," Atlantic

November 19, 2000|JOSEF WOODARD

Listening to these cool, airy, pleasantly amorphous tracks, one thinks less about the confines of a room than an imaginary view from a room. In fact, the room in question was the Museo Marino Marini in Florence, the cool, dark emptiness of which inspired 13 variations on a theme (i.e., "The Room of Ancillary Dreams," "The Room of Accidental Geometry").

Budd, composer and keyboardist (with help from two guitarists on a couple of tracks), does what he does best, creating sound paintings that threaten to drift away from weightlessness. The result is sweetly hypnotic. If he can be roped into any camp, Budd is a proto-Ambient, quasi-Minimalist who walks the line between new music maker and pop outsider. His music appeals on an elemental level, and he resists temptations to complicate matters.

Spare layers of keyboard parts, including pensive, reverb-bathed piano arpeggios and textural underpainting on synthesizer, contribute to effectively atmospheric ends. As demonstrated here, Budd is a persuasive delineator of the distinction between cerebral, ambient thinking and pallid New Age blather.

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