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Robin Guthrie/Harold Budd, "After..." and "Before..."

There's a type of tranquility which is like a running stream—perpetually in motion and slowly (try thousands of years) changing the landscape—but then there's a still type like a vast lake where a drop that disturbs the surface ripples and resonates. 



For nearly three decades Harold Budd's compositions have had a signature sound of the latter of the two and while After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks ride a wave of renewed interest in Cocteau Twins-influenced dream pop, these discs more closely fit into Budd's repertoire than Robin Guthrie's.

It is impossible to listen to these recordings and not be reminded of the first (and most famous) time these two collaborated. The recordings of these two records took place last year, 20 years after the release of The Moon and the Melodies, an LP which featured both masters prominently along with other Cocteau Twins members Elizabeth Fraser and Simon Raymonde. Budd's use of muted piano tones and scales are umistakable as well as Guthrie's sparse and delay-soaked guitars.

For the most part, the discs mirror each other and are relatively indistinguishable: neither sound more or less one author and each remain consistent in feel, pace, and mood. Both discs contain nine pieces and most pieces glide without the pulse of beat or a lead instrument. It's clear both Guthrie and Budd work as equals without letting egos drive competition. While there is a rare tune with a faint beat, only on the closer of each disc—notably related by title: "Turn Off the Sun" on After the Night Falls and "Turn Off the Moon" on Before the Day Breaks—do drum sounds come prominently into the picture.

While Cocteau Twins fans who are looking for the second coming of The Moon and the Melodies might find some of the music a little sparse without a lead vocal, I can't see Budd fans thinking this is too maximal. However, I too was a Cocteau Twins fan beforeI knew Harold Budd. If it weren't for The Moon and the Melodies I probably wouldn't have sought out The Pearl, The White Arcardes, or Ambient 2, all of which can easily be listened to alongside After the Night Falls and/or Before the Day Breaks. Two decades afterthe fact I'm not disappointed in the least.