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Terry Riley - A Rainbow In Curved Air CD (album) cover

A RAINBOW IN CURVED AIR

Terry Riley

 

Prog Related

4.37 | 80 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars It's hard finding the right words to speak of the genius of Terry Riley. This third album which follows the great "In C", is even better that its predecessor. Instead of minimalistic contemporary classic music we have a purely electronic performance. As In C, this "Rainbow in Curved Air", from which the omonimous Canterbury's band took its name, is based on major chords. There are no percussions of any kind, but this composition has a rhythm and a tempo. The difference with In C is that there are less repetitions. The organ interlude after 6 minutes leads to changes that are not only variations. There's a "relativistic" version of the cover sleeve that's pink with a rainbow split in two parts over a pink sky made of graph paper. It gives the idea of what a "curved air" can be.

The B side hosts "Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band". It starts with an organ crescendo. This track is more similar in the structure to the famous "In C" as it's Hortophonic. Overdubbed sax, loops, it's a synthesis of what we now call electronic music. The absence of rhythm gives a sense of "liquidity" to the organ background that after 6 minutes is left alone. Over it there are sounds that make it similar to a mantra. The "Tibet Suite" of Lucia Hwong has many contact points with this suite, but even if this part can sound tibetan, Terry Riley is closer to the jazz atmospheres than to the himalayan heights, so when brass-like sounds come over the organ it sounds jazzy. Think to a more artsy relative like Blade Runner Blues. Then for some time we have just an organ chord until the jazzy or tibetan part restarts. More chaotic and electronic this time. The essence of the composition doesn't change, but it has different "colours". It's after about 13 minutes from the start that we can clearly hear the sax. The basic chord is now minor, and even if from a perspective it adds a bit of dramaticity, from another it's quite sad music and can be a little boring, but just try to imagine Miles Davis playing his trumpet on this base. The theme doesn't change much until the end, there are true or electronic instruments coming and going until the organ is left alone, and the song is over.

Is it an essential masterpiece? I think so, specially if you like Krautrock or Progressive Electronic. This album and its predecessor are where it all started.

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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