Thursday, July 22, 2010


The Pearl; Harold Budd & Brian Eno

Sometimes an album hits you, or blankets you, or reaffirms you in a way that's impossible to articulate because words don't do it justice. The feeling has everything to do with your life at the particular moment, or string of moments, where you find yourself listening to said album over and over, especially alone. It's an emotion tied to a place, a person, a calamity, or all of the above that blends seamlessly with one album to create a nonverbal attachment. A sort of musical photograph.

[Not to be confused with "favorite albums" that permeate your existence; what I'm talking about is an album that more-so applies to a certain set of circumstances and that you feel on a deeply emotional, or subconscious level. Mostly of the melancholy variety.]

If you ever attempt to coax others into feeling this specific album the way you do, you'll probably feel exposed, cracked open, splintered; not to mention hurt by their possible critiques ("it's boring" being my least favorite). If they weren't immediately connected to your initial experience, or string of experiences, that embedded the album in some unknown part of you, then it's impossible to pass on the internal significance.

For me, The Pearl is one of several albums that act as emotionally driven, nostalgic forces. Interestingly for me, The Pearl was released in 1984, the year of my birth (along with Treasure by the Cocteau Twins, which is just as, if not more, personally significant), although I didn't hear it until 2006.

Two famous ambient musicians, Harold Budd and Brian Eno, came together to create this album. I love both of them apart (like Budd's The Room and of course Eno's Another Green World), but this collaboration really speaks to me, without the necessity of words. And I deal with words all day long, so when music can line my bones and course my bloodstream without so much as a relatable set of lyrics, it means something.

It simply doesn't work to describe, define, or god forbid analyze the songs using words. I will say this: the piano glides and whispers, the same melodies drifting in out like flickering lights; in one moment, everything is new, and another moment everything familiar. This is, in my opinion, the mark of a perfectly conceived cohesive album, which begs to be listened to from start to finish, and then start to finish once more. The colors and abstract contusion of the cover symbolizes the blending and fading that happens throughout this watercolor-hued record, where the ocean, the sky, and your solitary bed converge at the break of dusk, or dawn, or whenever/wherever you choose to listen.

What makes this album particularly "Surreal" for me is that I used to fall asleep to it night after night, the waves of piano accompanying me. The music blurs the distinction between my self-aware mind and my subconscious; between the waking world where the music exists and breathes, and the sleeping one where it is but an echo, a reflection, an infinite stream of sounds.

Even just the titles of these songs are poetic:

# "A Stream with Bright Fish"
# "The Silver Ball"
# "Against the Sky"
# "Lost in the Humming Air"
# "Dark-Eyed Sister"
# "Their Memories"
# "The Pearl"
# "Foreshadowed"
# "An Echo of Night"
# "Still Return"

dream. and listen.


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