Search - Harold Budd :: Lovely Thunder

Lovely Thunder
Harold Budd
Lovely Thunder
Genres: Dance & Electronic, New Age, Pop, Rock
On first inspection it might appear that nothing so plosive as thunder threatens the peacefulness that comprises this album. But as early as the second cut, "Sandtreader," remote booms impose the corporeal on the ethereal....  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Harold Budd
Title: Lovely Thunder
Members Wishing: 7
Total Copies: 0
Label: Virgin Int'l
Release Date: 12/1/1986
Album Type: Import
Genres: Dance & Electronic, New Age, Pop, Rock
Style: Ambient
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 077778712824

On first inspection it might appear that nothing so plosive as thunder threatens the peacefulness that comprises this album. But as early as the second cut, "Sandtreader," remote booms impose the corporeal on the ethereal. This tension typifies the nexus of new age, ambient, and avant garde synonymous with Harold Budd. He recorded Thunder at the studio of the Cocteau Twins, the mid-'80s band whose foreboding atmospherics anticipated trends in "shoegazing" pop and ambient electronica; the record benefits from the Twins' palette of shimmering yet Gothic textures. Released prior to the CD's advent, the album is best heard as two halves: a handful of aural soundscapes and a 20-minute-long mélange of synthetic chorus, B-movie modulations, and gaseous sonics, wrapped up in the evocative title "Gypsy Violin." --Marc Weidenbaum

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CD Reviews

Aptly titled
Micah Newman | Fort Worth, TX United States | 04/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of Harold Budd's central and best-known works, but oddly enough it is much more synth-based rather than relying on his signature treated-piano sound. It took me a few listens to get into because it sounded rather dated at first (as is the danger with any synth-based music recorded in the 80s!), but then I came to appreciate the well-realized thematic sonic program it represents. The best short description of _Lovely Thunder_ one can give is probably simply that it sounds like its title. Some pieces actually do incorporate sound effects of rumblings that sound like distant thunder. Overall, the mood is one of glacial stillness, but with a constant and vaguely unsettling undercurrent: it doesn't *quite* let you relax totally.

It does feel a bit slight overall, though: only 7 tracks, most of which are not that long (although the last is 20 minutes). But it is what it is, and still works. "The Gunfighter" is a haunting tone poem on piano with synth colorings; this is one of the pieces that does have Budd's immediately recognizable piano sound.

"Sandtreader" is gently undulating billows of synth.

"Ice Floes in Eden" I just did not like the first few go-rounds, mainly because of the periodic arhythmic stabs of synth that seemed cheesy at first. But I think it's meant to represent lightning, as that rumbling thunder sound immediately follows for each iteration. It's got that mood that makes it fit into the whole well.

"Olancha Farewell" is a rather short, very still synth piece.

"Flowered Knife Shadows," as so many have complained, is the same song as "Memory Gongs" from _The Moon and the Melodies_, Budd's album with the Cocteau Twins. As far as I can tell, it's the exact same piano performance, but remixed to be starker in sound, and without all the atmospherics and sound effects. Although I still prefer the "Memory Gongs" version, I kind of like the effect here, although it does seem a bit out of place on this album for some reason.

The aptly titled "Valse Pour Le Fin Du Temps" (which means "Waltz for the End of Time") is a forlorn, elegiac piece in three/four time. Again, just look at the title to "hear" it.

"Gypsy Violin" is a 20-minute stretch of vaguely foreboding atmosphere, with slowly modulating synth lines, and more of those thunder-and-lightning suggestive sounds punctuating and disturbing the equilibrium, just to let it settle back in.

Someone else said if you like _The Pearl,_ you'll like this, but I wouldn't agree: I liked _The Pearl_ immediately, whereas this one is really quite different. A good companion piece for this one, I think, would be Budd's _The White Arcades_, his next studio album after this one. I haven't heard any Budd I don't like, though from what I've heard I think I'll want to steer clear of _Pavilion of Dreams._"
Spaghetti inspired Gunfighter
olofpalme63 | auf der flucht! | 04/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not really sure where Lovely Thunder ranks among Budd's other works. There's no denying the brilliance of The White Arcades or even the classics he did with Brian Eno (The Pearl & The Plateaux Of Mirror). Thunder ranks near the top simply for containing elements of those releases.

So powerful is "The Gunfighter" that it could have been used in any Sergio Leone film. I can see Clint Eastwood clamp down on his cigar everytime i listen to it. Budd shifts gears in dramatic fashion. Forcing you to feel the heat and isolation of "Sandtreader". Driving you into your sweltering introversion. "Ice Floes In Eden" plays like a cold sweat. Thunder claps of tension filled withdrawl, enhanced with the definitive drama of a syringe hanging from a junkies arm.

If anything, Lovely Thunder would have to be considered Harold Budd's comercial inspired ambience. Containing everything but a music video for MTV. Thunder is about as close as Budd ever came to being considered pop friendly. This is a must have release. Even if you're a casual fan, you'll enjoy Budd's graphic visuals.