The Pearl

The Pearl

In the same way that Brian Eno employed pedal steel guitarist Daniel Lanois as the soloist for his 1983 ambient album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, he turned to pianist Harold Budd to star in 1984’s The Pearl. Though Budd had an otherworldly ability to let his notes exist in thin air without any presupposition of movement, some of the best songs here, like “Late October,” use his notes to give Eno’s abstract backdrops some gentle forward movement. The effect is like watching a steady stream of droplets hit the surface of a pool of water—though that isn’t to say that it's colorless or boring. There are moments of brightness and moments of pure overwhelming darkness. There are passages of optimism and passages of utter despair. Then again, such interpretations may solely be the projections of individual listeners. The goal of Eno’s ambient music was always to solicit the participation of listeners without them knowing it. In that sense, Budd and Eno only provide the weather; the road on which you experience it is entirely of your own making.

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