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  White Bird in a Blizzard  
  Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd  
  Lakeshore Records  
Release Date:


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Robin Guthrie appears to have comfortably settled into his niche as an ambient guitarist. Here he is collaborating once again with fellow ambient composer Harold Budd on another movie soundtrack. This is his third soundtrack album, and i have reviewed the other two (Mysterious Skin and 3:19). However, i have yet to see any of these movies... I am not really all that much of a movie watcher though.

I do, however, spend a lot of time listening to ambient music while working / cleaning / cooking / reading / etc. and Guthrie is one of my favorite artists to listen to. His music is light and beautiful, but has a lot of depth to it. I get the impression that he really likes just sitting around and messing with his guitar, teasing echoing sounds out of it.

He has also collaborated with Harold Budd numerous times (including the excellent 1986 record The Moon and the Melodies when Cocteau Twins collaborated with Budd), and i think the two of them have great chemistry. They are doing very similar things, only Budd plays piano instead of guitar. The tone of the overall result is the same: playful, mellow music that makes for great listening.

There are twelve tracks on this soundtrack album. They collaborate on two tracks, Guthrie does six, and Budd does four. It's actually a pretty nice mix and i like how the tunes flow together.

Guthrie kicks things off with Visions Of Eve, a deeply ambient tune. Sounds drone and his guitar picks out stray notes... This reminds me of his Imperial album, just a faint haze with some guitar over it.

Brockís Theme is more song-like. That is, it is not just an ambient piece of guitar and synths, but instead has drums and rhythm to it, in addition to some faint aah-ing way in the background. It is a poppy instrumental number, cruising along at a comfortable pace and getting nicely loud on the choruses...

Harold Budd's first piece is called The Radiant Bride and is a haze of synths, just sounds ebbing and flowing, with the occasional clear piano riff slowly shining through. This is what most people think of when they think "ambient", and i would like to point out that the reason people think this is because Budd has been doing this since 1970. Budd's work is, in a sense, the very definition of ambient. And he makes it seem so effortless...

Curious is the first of the two collaboration tunes. It seems to flow from the previous Budd piece, and then suddenly Guthrie's guitar echoes over the drone. He plays long, straight notes, almost bluesy, the notes echoing slowly... This is really lovely.

After Curious fades out, Guthrie is back with another solo piece called Forever Changed. This is a full "song", but the percussion is a faint tinkling and his guitar still bears a trace of that bluesy echoing in the cascading trills he plays. Nice.

Budd gives us The Affair, which is very similar to The Radiant Bride but with a washing sound, like water hitting a beach. It is light and lovely.

You Know The Combination is a very typical Guthrie tune. One layer of guitar counts down chords and another strums slowly while aah-ing voices and chiming keyboards sparkle in the distance. He does this type of thing so well, and this is a great example of his work.

Without A Trace is our second collaboration, and it is similar to the first one.

We have two Budd tracks next. The first one is Lament for Eve, and he plays straightforward piano here. That is, this is him at the piano picking out a sparse tune over faint drone, with an occasional bass ramble. The Drive is more droning, with faint sounds scattered about, including a nice echoed keyboard riff, a lovely piano bit, and a faint bass rumbling. This is very nice.

And finally the soundtrack ends with two Guthrie pieces. The first is Iím Here, Kat, Iím Here flows nicely from The Drive. It starts with Guthrie picking faint notes, then a light tapped drum comes in and he plays a really nice chord sequence. This is another great instrumental pop tune that grows into a nice density, with drums and Guthrie's guitar in layers. This is one of my favorite Guthrie tunes over the past few years. He really outdid himself here. However, the final track here is really lovely too. It's called White Bird and again starts slowly until building to layers of guitar. It has a nice sense of drama to it, which i guess is appropriate for a movie soundtrack.

So, i have not seen the movie this music goes to, and honestly i am probably unlikely to. I do like the music here though.

One point -- apparently only 1000 copies of this soundtrack record were made. Not sure why just that number -- is that a lot for an ambient soundtrack album, or too few? I have no idea what the audience is for this kind of thing. I ordered my copy off of Amazon, and had no trouble. I guess this might be a little rare, so if you are a Guthrie and/or Budd and/or ambient music fan, be on the lookout for it.

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