This, for my money, is the album that The Moon and the Melodies never quite managed to be all those years ago. I have always felt that the earlier album was a bit of a missed opportunity to get the best out of these two, very different, masters of ambient aesthetics. Far more could have been achieved if they had simply switched the drum machine off and (whisper it) put Liz Fraser a little further back in the mix.
If you know the excellent Mysterious Skin soundtrack from 2005, you'll know these two have already shown that they can work well together without those distractions. If you're wondering how this album differs from Mysterious Skin, well, I don't suppose it really does differ all that much. I might say the two musicians are a bit better integrated on this album -- they weave their instruments together more effectively, whereas on Mysterious Skin the individual tracks are perhaps more dominated by one or the other instrument, guitar or keyboard. But that might just be a subjective evaluation on my part. Basically, if you like what Guthrie and Budd normally do, then you'll like Before the Day Breaks; if you don't, then you might as well not be reading this.
For those who like what they hear and want more, I should add that they actually recorded and released two different albums at the same time. The other one is called As the Night Falls and is also available here on Amazon. The two albums are much the same in sound and character, and I guess the ideal thing would be to have them both, because they really are companion pieces. But if you only want one, well, this'll do just as well as the other. Depends which cover you like the best, I suppose.
Serene, relaxing, abstract and remote. Perfect for a bright cold winter's afternoon. Or any other time of year, for that matter.
Even in a congested ambient world a collaboration between the pioneering Harold Budd and Mr. Shoegaze himself, Robin Guthrie, is a mouth- watering prospect. Teaming up for the first time since The Cocteau Twins "The Moon and the Melodies" in 1986, these two legends prove beyond doubt that they are kindred spirits.
The fruit of their labours are these eighteen movements spread over two companion discs, "After the Night Falls" and "Before Day Break Arrives". This affiliation captures the atmosphere of the world in its most serene states. Either, just as it is settling into its nocturnal lethargy or in the early hours of the morning, when the sky is nothing more than a blurry red hue.
Former Cocteau Twin, Guthrie, layers his trademark celestial guitar work over Budd's sombre piano arrangements throughout, both elements blend seamlessly aided by the fact that everything is literally soaked in reverb. Melodies develop in a slow-shifting manner, generating a sense of anticipation using a seemingly endless supply of tremolo guitar tones. Just before the point of frustration, the duo will deliver a subtle chord change that brings about an unrivalled release of tension.
Budd and Guthrie construct a warm blanket of sound for the most part; the listener will take comfort in the soft velvet tones and frothy undercurrents. With each track sounding as if it was recorded somewhere distant, guitars notes cascade like waterfalls, while Budd weaves his tantalizing piano tones around.
These eighteen movements don't particularly register as single entities. These recordings are intended to be absorbed as a whole. There is a sense of joy on closing number "Turn on the Moon", for example. The gradually building distortion and live percussion gives an impression of triumph, much like returning home from a long journey and embracing old friends.
But then these recordings are not solely for an exclusive club. Budd and Guthrie have created a body of work that should be accessible to all, much like Vangelis' "Blade Runner". An absorbing, if a little daunting, listen from start to finish, the meditative qualities of both recordings are almost slumber-inducing. But that is meant as a compliment. Beautiful.
Robin and Harlod are a perfect combination for a music. (something like Fripp and Sylvian). After a splendid Mysterious Skin, now they present a 2 albums with splendid 18 tracks with beautiful poetry for your soul. If you like Mysterious Skin and The Moon and the Melodies then this is a realy fantastic gift for their fans.