It's been more than 20 years since pianist Harold Budd's first full collaboration with guitarist Robin Guthrie's former group, the Cocteau Twins, on The Moon and the Melodies
. Primed by their atmospheric collaboration on the score to Mysterious Skin
, they pick up where they left off, sans the voice of Elizabeth Fraser, on a pair of matched CDs, After the Night Falls
and Before the Day Breaks
. Guthrie lays down his signature deep-echo guitar arpeggios and shimmering electric glissandos while Budd drops piano notes, each placed with the elegance and thought of a Zen garden. The latter, whose 2005 retirement appears to have been greatly exaggerated, has lately been stripping away the electronics and making an introspective solo piano music, often born from melodic fragments and languid improvisations. It's nice to hear them framed by Guthrie in an electric gossamer where melodies flutter like tattered cobwebs in the echoing wind. So it's not surprising that some tracks have a tendency to vaporize. Songs with a bit of grounding like "Seven Thousand Sunny Years," with its spare rhythm track and refracting guitars, tend to hold up a little better, while "My Monochrome Vision" just wanders into the drone zone. Of the two albums, After the Night Falls
is more structured and formed, although Budd and Guthrie do wait until the last track of Before the Day Breaks
to unleash a welcome slice of contrasting aggression with "Turn on the Moon." Totaling 81 minutes between them, I'm not sure why the albums couldn't have been condensed into a single disc, making a tighter, less diffuse statement. Yet both have more than enough moments of sublime melancholy and deep ruminations to provide a soundtrack for that long lonesome film in your mind. --John Diliberto
Darla is proud to offer a pair of companion piece CDs by two Masters, Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd. After The Night Falls and Before The Day Breaks are not ambient. Both are instrumental, absolutely beautiful and as emotionally charged as any previous work from either artist. The pair of albums complement one another, each track with its twin on the companion piece, the two conceived as experiments in the dualities of music and emotion. As with all classic recordings from the Masters the listener desires repeated listening to absorb their full sonic implications. This is soulful music that allows one to find that place within where peace and perspective are achieved. It moves effortlessly to erase the chatter of modern life and inspire meditation on things important. It may help the listener better see their way forward. Robin's trademark guitar sound and Harold's signature piano sound first came together when Harold collaborated with Cocteau Twins on The Moon and the Melodies LP (4AD), 1986. The record was as strikingly beautiful as it was popular. In fact, it was the romantic recording of the decade. Here again Guthrie and Budd's signature sounds are absolutely made for each other; in heaven.