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Terry Riley: Reed Streams/L’Infonie - In C (Mantra) (organ of Corti 2)


Of the three “orthodox” sons of NY minimalism - Riley, Reich & Glass - I’ve always found Terry Riley the most interesting. Thus...I was v.intrigued to hear of organ of Corti’s reissue series, making available his formative recordings - many never before available. Bought the first two together and, I’d have to say...the performance that (completely) blew me away didn’t even feature the (esteemed) Mr Riley as a player!

Hence, this review...

To be sure, the reed organ material comprising the first 1/3 of this disc is great...it puts (physical/human) flesh upon Riley’s early keyboard approach - and is damn-well required listening for anyone that wants to get some feel for it (but...try listening to Nathan Abshire’s “Shamrock”, however, for a roots parallel to same), whilst the second section is even better, and “explains” just why he (mainly) switched to reeds...but, still - the last block of this particular cd is just purely essential...to anyone (in whatever sphere) that wants/needs/hopes to strip instrumental music back to its core, so as to learn what (genuinely) counts re same...

“L’Infonie in C (Mantra)” is - simply - something else. In 1970, a bunch of Canadian kids decided to rework Riley’s 1964 opus into some kind of Rock/Arkestra/Big Band epic...and - probably because they genuinely went for it (and ignored “rules”...but still, at base, respected the hard formal elements underlying Riley’s original conception) the result was a masterpiece.

Part of what they seem to have done was “orchestrate” some of the combinatory effects in the original...thus highlighting same, and making the result much easier to latch onto for naive listeners. Otherwise, they appear to’ve struck a near-perfect balance between the poles of adaption & originality...

Play it loud...no, very LOUD...and, you’ll easily hear/feel the deep conjunction between all the kinds of musics that they drew upon to produce this - fed through Riley’s brilliant blueprint.

So...if’n you’ve ever wondered what actually played (as opposed to merely “performed”) minimalism of this school was truly capable of, in terms of intensity and feel...then, look no further. This is (so far) definitely the disc to pick...




John Henry Calvinist