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The Pearl

4.8 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 31, 1990
$49.90 $2.99

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Out of print in the U.S.! 1984 album from the kings of ambient music: American pianist Harold Budd and British music chameleon Brian Eno. EMI.

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This sublime, tranquil recording features 11 haunting ambient tone poems for treated piano. They are crafted from simple chords, arpeggios, or melodies that are frequently trailed by delicate electronic whispers to produce dreamy results. Even though Budd and Eno chose to compose and record in a minimalist style, their gorgeous, moody music evokes so much more, for the reverberating spaces between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves. In an interesting experiment, both "Against the Sky" and "An Echo of Night" explore the same melancholic musical theme in different settings--the former is a sparse piano piece with gentle electronic treatments, the latter is a murky synth work set against a nocturnal outdoor backdrop. (Budd later explored the theme again as the ethereal elegy "Olancha Farewell" on his 1986 solo album, Lovely Thunder.) Beautifully understated, the slow-motion ballet of The Pearl is a piece of striking ambient impressionism that was highly original in its day, well before the myriads of New Age imitators its composers spawned, and it remains fresh and vital two decades later. --Bryan Reesman

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Late October
  2. A Stream With Bright Fish
  3. The Silver Ball
  4. Against The Sky
  5. Lost In The Humming Air
  6. Dark-Eyed Sister
  7. Their Memories
  8. The Pearl
  9. Foreshadowed
  10. An Echo Of Night
  11. Still Return


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 31, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Editions Eg Records
  • ASIN: B000003S2V
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,343 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love this album. It consists of minimalist pieces (some being no more than a few notes making up a lovely, sometimes quietly dramatic phrase) on an altered piano with some subtle tonal colorings added. The effect is contemplative, zenlike, trancelike, spiritual, calming, profoundly restful, like a musical still life-take your pick. This album serves many purposes for me. It helps me to sleep, read, think, or just construct a quiet space in my home when I want to relax. It is beautiful and endlessly repeatable. I must have listened to this album hundreds of times-and I am still not tired of it. There is New Age music and THEN there is "The Pearl". This album avoids all of the cliches of cheap New Age music. It set the standard years ago and I only wish that there was more music in this vein available.
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Format: Audio CD
I've been listening to this CD for 15 years, and am still stunned by it. Each one of these soft pieces is a world unto itself. The closer one listens, the more one discovers there. The wonderfully precise programmatic song titles long ago led me into "visualizations" of the "mental places" the music conjures (this is one aspect of Eno's "ambient" ethic--these pieces of music are set in imaginary PLACES. The other part of the ethic is that these are meant to become a part of your space, like your furniture or paintings). Like "The Plateaux of Mirror," their previous collaboration, Budd seems to be the primary keyboard player, with Eno's chosen task being the setting of those aloof and cyclical compositions into very wide sonic environments. There are a few experiments, too--the last two tracks are re-recordings of tracks 4 & 1, slowed down and reprocessed into new forms. Simply wonderful!
This album completes a trio--the others being "Thursday Afternoon" and "Ambient 4: On Land"--of the most masterful use of electronic equipment ever recorded.
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Format: Audio CD
This album and the preceding one, "Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror", really have to be taken together in the same listen. They both feature the same sparse piano melodies over a treated Eno-scape. These two albums are my favorites for relaxation, reading, painting - you name it, they're great for it. That's why it's called "Ambient" music - it is made to fit in with almost any atmosphere, blending with, as Erik Satie once said, "The sounds of the knives and forks at dinner".
My favorite time to listen to these records is in a rainstorm, especially with distant thunder in the background. The rain sounds seem to bring out subtleties in the music that can't be heard otherwise.
So if you like Eno's "Ambient 1" or "Discreet Music" or Steve Roach's "Structures from Silence", this is the album for you.
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Format: Audio CD
In his time, jazz pianist Bill Evans was a master of understated elegance, and one of his famous compositions, a eulogy for his Father, was titled "Turn Out The Stars." Not only can those stars be added to the five alloted above, but the imagery is quite fitting to this album. "The Pearl" drifts in and out of one's consciousness, alighting and then slowing burning down like a candle. A remastered version should clarify this even further.

Enough with the metaphors; "The Pearl" has achieved the same exalted status in ambient music that Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue" has rightly earned in jazz. "The Pearl" fits the defintion of ambient music perfectly; it is beautiful on careful listen, as sonic wallpaper, an accompaniment to work, or a mood setter for intimacy. The CD has just the right type of reverb, just the right amount of nature sounds, the perfect number and length of songs, and the tracks begin, end, and are sequenced to perfection.

This is not a rhythmic record, but melodically and harmonically it is stunning. From the opening piano figure played by Harold Budd on "Late October," and layered in sonic velvet by Brian Eno to the bookend "Still Return," "The Pearl" stands as one of the finest collaborations between two musically synergistic pioneers, and as an enduring testament to the power of restraint.
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Format: Audio CD
Wow, I'm certainly not a journalist, so it will be harder for me to convey my impressions of the stunning beauty of this absolute masterpiece. Textures I never knew existed, sonic landscapes focusing crystal clear with eyes closed emerge with each listening. I've owned this album since it was issued and it has to be the most personal and quietly devastating work of musical art I have ever experienced. Frighteningly devastating...how can we ever thank you Harold Budd and Brian Eno...
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Format: Audio CD
Never before have I owned a CD such as this one that each time I listen to it I become blissed out.
Harold and Brian are both geniuses.
I only have about 4 of Harold's CD's but his gifted piano compositions affect me like no other...
I thoroughly recommend this music to take you into those places within yourself that are characteristic of the most serene and tranquil states ever imaginable.
Harold, you're brilliant.
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Format: Audio CD
Even more than "Music for Airports" and "Plateaux of Mirror", this album is the definitive collaboration album from the Budd & Eno archives. A groundbreaking classic of the ambient genre, this disc just gets better with time, especially in an era when the New Age and ambient genres have been overrun with imitators and dilettantes.

Subtle, gorgeous piano and synthesizer work features throughout, with a richness and emotion that is hard to find on other ambient albums. When it comes to "relaxation" tunes, this one has the field beat, and I've spent many an evening, in bed, under the stars, with my wife or alone, letting the quiet, spare beauty of this disc spirit me away from the troubles of the everyday world.

Anyone seeking to find the roots of true ambient should look no further. Budd & Eno were doing it long, long before most others, and they were doing it with a style and a gentle grace that has come to typify their collaborative efforts.
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