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


Terry Riley


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4.35 | 87 ratings

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4 stars The recent death of ISAO TOMITA (22 April 1932 / 5 May 2016) made me remember an EP disc which was included as a bonus promotional disc in WENDY (THEN KNOWN AS WALTER) CARLOS's LP album "The Well Tempered Synthesiser" (1969) that my father bought in 1969-1970. I think that at that time my father was discovering Electronic Music during a time when it became popular maybe more thanks to CARLOS's "Switched-On Bach" album from 1968. Both of CARLOS's albums which I mentioned above had the characteristic of having music composed by J.S. Bach played with Moog Synthesisers. At that time those albums were seeing as very "revolutionaty" in music, and particularly "Switched-On Bach" was a very successful and popular album. That EP had a fragment from a work which was played and recorded by another Electronic Music pioneer called TERRY RILEY. I think that it was a fragment from the Side One of this album, called "A Rainbow in Curved Air" (1969), but I can't remember well now. Anyway, recently I had the opportunity to listen to this album as a whole for the very first time.

In contrast to TOMITA and CARLOS, who used synthesisers for their albums, RILEY in this album only used more "conventional" keyboards, like organ and harpsichord, plus some percussion instruments.

The "A Rainbow in Curved Air" title musical piece in the Side One of the LP is inlfuenced a lot by Indian music, with a drone effect done by a single note played in an organ, plus several other organ parts playing scales in a "geometrical" way. The music is so well synchronised that it never loses a beat. Maybe RILEY used some recorded tape loops to create this sequence of sounds. It is so well done that the music never loses its "geometric pattern". And while the repetition of this pattern goes on and on, there is a lot of variety and even improvisation with some keyboard parts who play melodies and scales at the front of the loops. It never tired me as a listener. It has to be remembered that this album was recorded a long time before the arrival of programmed synthesisers and keyboards. So, a lot of work could have been done in the late sixties by RILEY and his production team to achieve this.

"Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band", in the Side Two fo the LP, also has a lot of Influence from Indian Music, with again a drone effect done by some keyboards. This musical piece is less "melodic" than the first, even a bit noisy in some parts, but it is also very good. Again, I could listen to the "geometric effect" produced by the tape loops. In this musical piece RILEY also played on saxophones a lot of melodies and solos, recording several sax parts. This musical piece maybe also has some influences from KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN, another musician who also was a pioneer and contributor to the experimental music of the 20th Century, and another composer which my father listened to sometimes.

A very good electronic / experimental music album from the late sixties. It also influenced PETE TOWNSHEND from THE WHO, who was inspired by RILEY's work to create the keyboard parts which TOWNSHEND played for "Baba O' Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again", both being songs which he composed and recorded with THE WHO for their "Who's Next" album from 1971.

Guillermo | 4/5 |


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