The ambient musician Harold Budd returns with what could be described as an ambient concept album, featuring eleven tracks surrounding the mysterious Jane. ‘Jane 1-11’ is an interesting ambient experience, in that it offers just a little bit more than ambient drones and gentle piano melodies, and instead offers eleven tracks of seemingly different branches of ambient music. It is an interesting experience, and one that certainly shows some incredible creativity from Budd. Whilst the diversity might be enjoyable to some though, I find it is just a little disappointing, as it means there’s less room for specific style of Budd’s that I find most enjoyable.
‘Jane 1-11’ indulges in a number of ambient styles, incorporating many elements that are perhaps a little unusual, but certainly interesting in painting an overall picture. It does seem that ‘Jane 1-11’ is a concept album that explores one individual character, and is expressed purely through the use of instrumental music. Due tot he diversity of the music itself, and perhaps the fact that it is entirely instrumental, it creates a wonderful mysterious idea that makes it hard to determine the specific words of the story, though the overall story is somewhat understandable. There’s some lovely pieces on ‘Jane 1-11’ that can even be enjoyed as stand-alone music, and not just enjoyed in the overall structure of the album. It’s some impressive writing at times, as each track seems key to the overall album, but there’s enough in them to just be enjoyed for what they are.
Whilst there are many enjoyable, and commendable elements to ‘Jane 1-11’, I find it just doesn’t hit the right note with me. The diversity in the tracks certainly can keep you on your toes, but I find it creates an almost frustrating element, as enjoyable drones and notes are replaced by other various instrumentals that are less enjoyable. This is perhaps the point of ‘Jane 1-11’, in order to create the overall story, but I find that it just doesn’t work at times for me, and that it results in some tracks that are perhaps forgettable. It’s commendable to Harold Budd to at least be trying things, but there’s perhaps a little too much experimentation here.
‘Jane 1-11’ is certainly a good album, and it is nice to see Harold Budd creating wonderful stories through ambient music. Whilst it is enjoyable, it just doesn’t work for me on a few levels. Perhaps the experimentation is on purpose to create mysterious levels that build up the story, and if this is the case, it is interesting, but just something that doesn’t work for me personally. It’s impossible to say that ‘Jane 1-11’ is a bad album, as it is essentially just a lovely ambient album. I would just say that I find some of Harold Budd’s previous work much more preferable to his latest album.
- ★★★☆☆ 3/5
- Jane 2
- Jane 5
- Jane 8
- Jane 11
Harold Budd’s latest album ‘Jane 1-11’ is out now.