Performed and recorded in memoriam of James Tenney, his friend and former colleague at Cal Arts, Perhaps (Root Strata) is an understandably reflective and meditative exercise for Harold Budd. Budd is a renowned avant-garde composer and pianist who has long interacted with minimalism and free jazz over the course of his career, and Perhaps is a continuous 75-minute solo improvisation filled with the calm, controlled energy of a master.
Budd’s use of space is delicate but powerful. With gentle pedal work he streams impressionistic harmonies through clusters and common tones. Interestingly, he creates a fluid forward motion through patient restraint: Budd allows the necessary time for each chord to ametrically ring into and away from itself to create a continual feel of progression. Metaphorically, using the piano’s harmonic decay as a mechanism for musical growth could comment on the nature of death he is presumably addressing in the piece as a whole.
I’m sure there are allusions and constructive elements that are way over most of our heads, but analyzing the minutia of this piece seems beyond the point. This is a gorgeous moment in time honoring the passage of a larger-scale “moment” in time, and it’s successful in that it makes the listener aware of the beauty and finality of both.