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Terry Riley - Descending Moonshine Dervishes CD (album) cover


Terry Riley


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3.57 | 8 ratings

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4 stars This is a live recording made in Berlin on November 29, 1975 but apparently not released until 1982. Especially at the beginning, Descending Moonshine Dervishes bears some similarities to the second disk of Riley's Persian Surgery Dervishes (1972), but it wouldn't surprise me to find that there were additional iterations composed and/or recorded between these two.

Descending Moonshine Dervishes is a much more challenging listen than Persian Surgery Dervishes, if for no reason other than the tuning(s) Riley uses on the electric organ. For lack of more precise terms, I would say that the tuning gives the music a "raga" or Indian feel. But some of the transitions are jarring to my western ear.

Descending is also busier than Persian, using several rhythm-offset tape loops of what sounds like sequencers - - akin, not surprisingly, to the overlapping sequences on The Who's "Baba O'Riley." (Get it?) But at nearly fifty-two minutes, Descending has plenty of time to grow, and by the middle of the piece, a nearly rhythmless serenity has settled in, and a more western tuning has returned. The sequences reassert themselves over the last ten minutes, only to dissolve into a chord at the end.

Although Descending Moonshine Dervishes strikes me as a bit unfocused at times, it is pretty fantastic as a whole. I do wish the sound quality was better, but I guess it was recorded at a festival with whatever equipment was on hand. So it it what it is.

A demanding listen, especially during the first half, but a rewarding one.

patrickq | 4/5 |


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