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Terry Riley - In C CD (album) cover


Terry Riley


Prog Related

3.96 | 37 ratings

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2 stars Rainbow In Curved Air's acoustic predecessor, albeit less exciting and less dynamic. Upon first listen, this album will inevitably sound like a mesh of noise (just imagine 11 musicians+overdubbing all playing at once). But before you reach, for the ibuprofen heed my advice. The listening method I suggested in my Rainbow review is even more applicable to this album-- and it's even easier to do.

The method is to pick out one component in the music and scale back, seeing how that one component interplays with the others and how it gradually changes throughout the piece. In C is structured as 53 independent bars. One by one, each instrument makes it's introduction by playing the first bar, and each of the instruments moves onto the next whenever they feel it, thus achieving polyphonic interplay. The significance of this interplay is primarily rhythmic-- I find many of the tonal clashes between the notes nauseating.

If you can read rhythms, there is a PDF file that shows the sheet music (the 53 bars) of this piece, so you can follow along. This makes it easier to pick out certain components within the music, and keeps you off the ibuprofen. For me, this PDF is essential to enjoying the music. But once I had listened to In C for about a month, and gotten over the innovative concept behind it, I didn't find myself craving another listen. This is a mildly enjoyable album, but it never had a huge impact on me. An essential element of music is dynamics and emotion, both of which are entirely absent in this piece. This music can be played just as well by well-programmed automatons. This music quickly becomes drab and static, its oversimplified score constrains creative liberties and has no capacity for emotional expression. In C is not the place to experience the life force of art which I so treasure in progressive music (and many of Riley's other albums)-- its human component.

If you hate it, I understand the sentiment. Just be grateful that you didn't have to sit through Riley's live rendition of this piece in 2000-- it ran nearly an hour and a half!

Rosebud | 2/5 |


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