critic's pick 45

harold budd & clive wright: a song for lost blossoms

harold budd & clive wright: a song for lost blossoms

While wading through Pensive Aphrodite, the hypnotic 32-minute opening suite on A Song for Lost Blossoms, keyboardist and ambient music pioneer Harold Budd along with guitarist Clive Wright (of Cock Robin, the band responsible for the neglected mid ‘80s pop hit, When Your Heart is Weak) unexpectedly peel back the years.

Within Pensive Aphrodite, Budd’s keyboards set up attractive orchestrations that move in ultra-slow motion, just as they have on his albums for the past three decades. Wright’s guitar colors don’t serve as a foil or even a conversation piece. They instead drift in and out the keyboard maze to modestly intensify the mood. In other words, Wright is a welcome visitor to Budd’s ambient plateau – but a visitor, nonetheless.

That we even have this collaboration is something of a wonder. Budd announced his retirement four years ago. So the release of A Song for Lost Blossoms comes as something of a surprise even if the music it contains is often indistinguishable from Budd’s other atmospheric recordings.

fripp & eno: no pussyfooting

fripp & eno: no pussyfooting

But another reference point surfaces when listening to Lost Blossoms. The way Wright’s guitar seems to almost subvert the recording’s meditative stance brings to mind one of the great blueprint albums in progressive instrumental music: 1973’s No Pussyfooting by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. And, what a coincidence, that record and its 1975 followup, Evening Star, have been beautifully remastered and reissued this fall.

One could argue there are links to the revolutionary classicism of John Cage or even the early electronic adventures of Tangerine Dream in No Pussyfooting. But Fripp and Eno – the former then in the thick of his most adventurous ‘70s music with King Crimson while the latter had split from Roxy Music to begin a musical voyage that would team him with Budd in the early ‘80s – mostly design their own template of sound with drone like effects, primitive tape loops and harmony that remains otherworldly to this day.

The opening passage of No Pussyfooting‘s The Heavenly Music Corporation, in fact, sounds less like electronic music and more like an elongated chant where guitar, keyboards and tape effects blur. It’s not until the unmistakable tone of Fripp’s guitarwork enters in layers that you get much feel for which instrumentalist is doing what.

Wright’s guitar doesn’t play against anything nearly so confrontational on Lost Blossoms. One of No Pussyfooting‘s most arresting traits, after all, remains its sense of dynamics. The ebb and flow of its music is still breathtaking. But the way Wright services and reacts to Budd’s more contemplative backdrops is similar.

Those who have enjoyed No Pussyfooting for years will find big fun in the reissue’s bounteous bonus material. It reconstructs the entire album in reverse (the effect is only slightly less startling than the original recording) and all of Heavenly Music in a half speed exercise where guitar glacially embellishes the music over 41 minutes.

fripp & eno: evening star

fripp & eno: evening star

There is no such tinkering on the remastered Evening Star, a perhaps less daring but far more approachable work where the compositional links to Budd’s music are stronger. Within the contours of Evensong, Wind on Wind and Evening Star‘s title track, is a serene but substantial aural fabric that still serves as a proud forefather to the ambient-minded generations that came in the music’s gloriously understated wake.

Corona losing its golden glow; With rivals multiplying, No. 1 import sees first sales decline in 16 years.(News)

Advertising Age March 24, 2008 | Mullman, Jeremy Byline: JEREMY MULLMAN Corona has long been miles away from the ordinary-and the competition. But for the first time in 16 years, the seemingly unstoppable Mexican import is seeing sales decline. And while the brand’s executives chalked up the erosion to a price increase, analysts and the ever-expanding list of challengers storming Corona’s beaches aren’t so sure. Wall Street analysts and some of the brand’s rivals point to a frothing head of new or reinvigorated brands that appeal to traditional Mexican import drinkers-including Dos Equis, Miller Chill, the forthcoming Bud Light Lime and even Corona’s resurgent sibling Modelo Especial-as creating a more difficult competitive environment than the No. 1 import previously has faced. see here jimmy buffett tour 2011

“We’re getting growth from them,” said Eduardo Casas, director-Mexican brands at Heineken USA, which markets Corona rivals Dos Equis and Tecate. “There is no question we’re affecting their business.” Executives at Crown Imports, which markets the laid-back brand in the U.S., seem unperturbed. “There have been dozens of brands introduced by many competitors who have unsuccessfully tried to emulate the success of Corona,” said a spokesman, “and we don’t see why these attempts would be different.” One executive at the brand’s longtime ad agency, Cramer-Krasselt, laughed when asked if the brand would alter its long-held “vacation in a bottle” strategy-best known for endless variations of beer drinkers enjoying a Corona on a beach.

And, in fact, planned ads for Corona and Corona Light don’t veer much, if at all, from the sun-and-sand-soaked standards it’s been running since 1993. One, called “Treasure Map,” starts with an aerial view of a beach with an “X” on it that’s ultimately revealed to be an umbrella under which two drinkers are enjoying Coronas. A print execution shows two bottles side by side in front of a rocky beach: In one, a lime labeled “Snorkel” bobs near the neck of the bottle; in the other, the lime is fully submerged and labeled “Scuba.” “It’s that relaxed, unadorned simplicity inherent in Corona’s personality that separates it not only from its direct competitors in the beverage-alcohol industry but also from any other consumer product on the market today,” said Timm Amundson, VP-marketing for Corona.

The agency executive dismissed the new competitors as the latest in a long line of Tequiza-like beverages that have failed to dent Corona. But Tequiza and other past challengers to Corona were not as well-funded as the current crop, which has collectively spent more than $100 million. Miller launched its lime-and salt-flavored Miller Chill last year, spending $25 million on a national media campaign and perhaps twice that much this year, an amount that would almost equal the $53 million Corona spent on its base brand last year.

While Miller Chill’s flavor profile differs from that of Corona-even one with a lime shoved in the bottle neck-there’s little question its Spanglish-tinged ad campaign lured some Corona drinkers away. Miller’s internal research found that 15% of the brand’s volume otherwise would have gone to Corona, according to two people who’ve seen the numbers.

Not to be outdone, Anheuser-Busch this year is launching Bud Light Lime-on Corona stronghold holiday Cinco de Mayo, no less-with a $35 million marketing budget that will compete directly with Chill and indirectly with Corona.

A-B last year also launched Landshark Lager, a niche brand that swiped Corona’s longtime Jimmy Buffett tour sponsorship and nosed its way into Mr. Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant chain. This year, Corona is moving on to sponsor Kenny Chesney’s concert tour . site jimmy buffett tour 2011

Older Mexican brews are also ramping up spending and picking up share. On the high end, Dos Equis last year launched its largest campaign, dropping $8.5 million on measured media, about 50% more than it spent the year before, while on the low end, its sibling Tecate targeted Mexican immigrants with a $16.8 million measured-media outlay, a 10% hike over the year before. Tecate also introduced a light version last year.

Some of Corona’s struggles can also be attributed to an economy that has been unusually rough on its key markets-such as Southern California-and may wind up tightening the budgets of higher-end drinkers who may be less willing to spring for more expensive beers.

“In the past, [mega-imports have] always bounced back,” said Beer Marketer’s Insights Editor Benj Steinman. “But the past isn’t always a prologue.” CAPTION(S):

Life’s a beach: The “Vacation in a bottle” pitch isn’t likely to go away.

Mullman, Jeremy

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