Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd - After The Night Falls / Before The Dawn Breaks
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Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd
After The Night Falls / Before The Dawn Breaks

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd are both pretty much masters of their own respective sounds, and they've both been releasing music both on their own and in a variety of different groups and collaborative efforts for almost roughly three decades apiece now. Budd has worked with Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Andy Partridge, and a slew of others, while Guthrie was a founding member of the Cocteau Twins and has been busy lately scoring films, releasing his own albums, and doing production work for a bunch of younger artists like Manual, Mahogany, and others.

The two have actually worked together before, when Budd joined Guthrie on The Moon And The Melodies release by The Cocteau Twins over twenty years ago. As can probably be surmised by the titles, After The Night Falls and Before The Day Breaks are very much companion pieces to one another, with each shorter album containing the same number of tracks that then play off one another. For instance, album opener on the former album is entitled "How Distant Your Heart," and finds some soft washes of guitar by Guthrie spilling out across a warm bed of droning tones and some sparse piano work by Budd. On the latter disc, the guitar work ascends slightly, with drippy piano again playing out behind a dreamy haze of never-ending guitar tones.

You may notice that I've already used the words 'dreamy,' 'haze,' and 'warm' to describe these two releases, and honestly those sorts of adjectives could apply to just about every single track on both of the releases. If anything, the pieces on After The Night Falls are just a slight bit more dynamic in places, suitable for trying to extend the waking hours or conjure up a bit more active R.E.M. "Inside, A Golden Echo," is a perfect example, with some slight programmed percussive elements brushing out the cobwebs while other blippy electronic effects hover just in the distance around the ever-present piano and guitar. Alternately, "Outside, Silence" is about as light as they come, with spectral ghost notes that approximate the dawn chorus more than anything.

Combined, the running length of both releases is just over eighty minutes, with a majority of tracks completely flowing together in semi-formless drifts. Having listened to both releases a good deal of times already, I honestly have a hard time remembering big differences between either, with actual track titles turning into a complete blur after awhile. Imagine some of the most stripped-down and light ambient work that you can for each artist, then stir it together in a reverb-drenched stew, and that's roughly the equivalent of what you get here. It's certainly very pretty, but pretty darn bland at most points as well considering the two artists involved, with guitar and piano noodles that start and seemingly end several tracks later. Do not operate heavy machinery while playing.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2007-06-14 21:17:25