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TERRY RILEY

Prog Related • United States


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Terry Riley biography
Terrence Mitchell Riley - Born June 24, 1935 (Colfax, California,USA)

Terry Riley attended various California universities and finally earned a masters in composition from UC Berkeley. One of the earliest electronic composers, Riley was one of the initial participants in the renowned San Francisco Tape Music Center. He also studied classical Indian music under Pandit Pran Nath and became professor of Indian music studies at Mills College in 1971. During the 1960s, Riley performed all-night solo concerts by playing a harmonium and saxophone through tape loop echo devices. When he needed a break he would play back the tape loops by themselves. His composition 'In C', composed in 1964, is often given credit for pioneering the musical style that became known as minimalism.

Although Riley started his musical career in the company of fellow future minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Pauline Oliveras, over the years his musical career often veered towards a more rock or jazz like setting in which he was more an improvising performer than composer. His 1969 electronic composition, 'A Rainbow in Curved Air', had a massive effect on the then still developing world of progressive psychedelic and avant-garde rock music. While most early electronic music centered around bizarre sound constructions and totally serialized twelve tone music, Riley's Raibow on the other hand was beautifully tonal in Indian influenced mixolydian keys and featured a rock like pulsing rhythm that caught on with the young avant-psychedelic crowd that was also digging Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, Amon Duul and Can. Soon the sound of pulsing electronic synthesizers and organs became a standard part of many young adventurous performers culminating in the German experimental collective known as Tangerine Dream.

While performing as an improvising soloist, Terry struck a chord with many young rock performers including the Velvet Underground's John Cale. You can hear Riley's influence on Velvet Underground cuts such as 'Sister Ray' where Cale's pulsing organ sounds mix Riley's Rainbow style with the sound of cheap 60s porno soundtracks. Cale and Riley would later record together creating a rock/Indian/fusion masterpiece called 'Church of Anthrax'. All through the late 60s and early 70s Riley's influence is present in progressive rock: from Soft Machine's obvious tributes on their IIIrd album, to The Who's 'Who's Next' album with its arpeggiated Arp figures and a song...
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TERRY RILEY Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy TERRY RILEY Music


Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air & Poppy Nogood and the Phantom BandTerry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air & Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band
Sony Classical 1988
$6.48
$4.00 (used)
A Rainbow In Curved AirA Rainbow In Curved Air
Classical Music on 2019
$22.59
$26.31 (used)
Riley: In CRiley: In C
Brilliant Classics 2015
$5.19
$7.19 (used)

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TERRY RILEY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TERRY RILEY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 8 ratings
Reed Streams
1967
3.97 | 34 ratings
In C
1968
4.32 | 62 ratings
A Rainbow In Curved Air
1969
4.66 | 13 ratings
Happy Ending (OST)
1972
4.13 | 8 ratings
Le Secret De La Vie (OST)
1975
3.98 | 14 ratings
Shri Camel
1980
4.43 | 7 ratings
No Man's Land (OST)
1984
3.83 | 6 ratings
The Harp Of New Albion
1986
5.00 | 2 ratings
Shanghai Film Orchestra: In C
1989
4.13 | 4 ratings
Kronos Quartet: Salome - Dances For Peace
1989
4.00 | 3 ratings
Zeitgeist: Intuitive Leaps
1994
5.00 | 1 ratings
Rova Saxophone Quartet: Imbas Forasnai - Chanting The Light Of Foresight
1994
5.00 | 1 ratings
Ensemble Percussione Ricerca: In C
1995
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Book Of Abbeyozzud
1999
4.75 | 4 ratings
Music For The Gift
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
You're Nogood
2000
4.09 | 4 ratings
Kronos Quartet: Requiem For Adam
2001
5.00 | 3 ratings
Atlantis Nath
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
European Music Project / Zignorii++: In C
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
Keyboard Studies
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
Terry Riley & Michael McClure: I Like Your Eyes Liberty
2004
5.00 | 1 ratings
Autodreamographical Tales
2010
4.50 | 2 ratings
Aleph
2012
4.05 | 2 ratings
Terry Riley & Amelia Cuni: The Lion's Throne
2019

TERRY RILEY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.16 | 18 ratings
Persian Surgery Dervishes
1972
3.57 | 8 ratings
Descending Moonshine Dervishes
1982
4.09 | 4 ratings
Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets
1983
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Padova Concert
1992
4.67 | 3 ratings
In C - 25th Anniversary Concert
1995
5.00 | 3 ratings
Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band All Night Flight Vol.1
1996
4.33 | 3 ratings
Lisbon Concert
1996
5.00 | 2 ratings
Olson III
1999
4.50 | 2 ratings
Olson III
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
In C
2000
4.00 | 4 ratings
In C (with Bang On A Can)
2001
4.00 | 1 ratings
In C / In DO(M) / In Moscow
2001
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Last Camel in Paris
2008

TERRY RILEY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TERRY RILEY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 3 ratings
Descending Moonshine Dervishes / Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets
1992

TERRY RILEY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TERRY RILEY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Terry Riley & Amelia Cuni: The Lion's Throne by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Terry Riley & Amelia Cuni: The Lion's Throne
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This published material between Terry Riley And Amelia Cuni - The Lion's Throne (2019), was taken from live recordings (no recorded applauses) in the United Kingdom and Italy in between 1999 / 2006 and showcases both Riley's and Amelia Cuni's connection with Classical Indian music and its juxtaposition with modern Western canons and tunings.

The Lion's Throne is a 5 track album, its first three tracks ( Lion's Throne, Arica & Crazy World) are piano/vocals based compositions. Their surprise and thrill beyond their enticing transmuting piano structures relies on the female/male counterpointing vocal patterns and their respective lyrical experimentation on ancient and modern texts.

The last 2 tracks are played on different instruments therefore written for a different style of music and a different vocal approach, which to put it in PA's category list of terms, fit easily in the (contemporary) Indo-Prog/Raga (less the Rock plus its rare experimental side, plus again the lyrical reinterpretentions on ancient and modern texts.), sub-genre.

As I listen to it my personal appreciation falls between my ever growing affection for voiceless/textless music (or of only certain vocal registers or texts) and my utter admiration for Mr. Riley's ever growing and challenging, as always original, musical language.

This recorded recollection of live encounters if anything wraps up pretty much Terry Riley's songwriting scopes and his relentless quest as contemporary composer and underlines Amelia Cuni's evident singing talent and on track four: Cantico her composer's one.

So, as I mentioned, not exactly my cup of tea, but it will be absurd to underrate it due to the same.

4 stars.

 Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets by RILEY, TERRY album cover Live, 1983
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Songs For The Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets was recorded 'live' in 1982, in Munich, but like Riley's other live albums of the time, it doesn't sound like it was performed for an audience. Rather, 'live' indicates a limitation Riley (and/or the sponsor or record company) placed on the performance, that it would not include overdubs.

The first side of the vinyl is occupied by the 22-minute 'Embroidery,' and the second is comprised of two eleven-minute pieces, 'Eastern Man' and 'Chorale of the Blessed Lady,' but the three pieces aren't especially contrasting; in effect, they constitute a single three-section work. Each piece is a recording of Riley's voice and two synthesizers. (I believe that one of the two is set up as a sequencer.) As was the case with parts of Riley's Descending Moonshine Dervishes, released in 1982, Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets uses what sound like Indian scales or tunings; Riley's vocal teacher was the Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath.

But unlikeDescending, much of Songs of the Ten Voices is vocal. I was surprised that a gifted composer such as Riley was also a decent singer. He'd actually sound even better if he wasn't singing in a style that requires notes to be held for so long; it seems that everyone's voice wavers off pitch if given enough of a chance. The lyrics are also much better than I'd've guessed (at least those in English). Riley sticks to relatively straightforward observations (of a 'firefly of changing colors,' for example, he sings that it 'never had a chance to leave the ground like this before').

Riley has legitimate connections to a variety of artists on Prog Archives, from those who influenced him, like Miles Davis, to those with whom he collaborated, like John Cale, to those he influenced, like the Who - - among others. So it's great to see him listed here, even if albums like Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets and Persian Surgery Dervishes don't (yet) have any written reviews. Of course, another reason for the lack of reviews could also be that these albums are difficult to describe.

Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets is not an album that I'd put on at any party I've ever been to, nor would I crank it up while driving down the highway. But it's a fascinating album to study, and an easy album to appreciate. I'd suggest it to anyone interested in music as art, and to those interested in modern academic composition. It's not rock, but it's definitely progressive.

 Descending Moonshine Dervishes by RILEY, TERRY album cover Live, 1982
3.57 | 8 ratings

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Descending Moonshine Dervishes
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Persian Surgery Dervishes by RILEY, TERRY album cover Live, 1972
4.16 | 18 ratings

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Persian Surgery Dervishes
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Persian Surgery Dervishes is comprised of four pieces ranging from twenty to twenty-five minutes each. The first two pieces were recorded in Los Angeles on April 18, 1971; the second two in Paris on May 24, 1972.

Part One of the LA performance features Riley performing a repetitive piece on organ, a composition that sounds very much like something Steve Reich would have written. The playing is a little rough early on - - not bad, but it takes away from the mechanical effect. Part Two is a different composition that uses a different organ preset - - and uses a much wider range of octaves - - but in many ways it's similar to the first piece. Both are arpeggiations, as I understand the term, with wide variations in note length and spacing. Part Two is quite a bit more varied, and in places sounds like a classical organ exercise.

For the Paris performance Riley appears to be using a modified or prepared organ, or perhaps its being played through some effect which compresses its dynamic range. In places he seems to be using a sequencer or a tape loop. Compositionally, the Paris pieces are superior to the Los Angeles pieces, but the sound quality is pretty bad. Actually, I was disappointed with the sound of the LA disk, and the Paris one is much worse. It's possible that it's my copy (apparently the 1993 New Tone reissue, downloaded from emusic.com), but it sounds the same on a YouTube video I listened to. To be fair, both performances are engrossing, so the sound quality isn't as much of a distraction as it might otherwise be.

Both the composition and the performance evolve from good to fantastic over the ninety minutes of Persian Surgery Dervishes. I'd strongly recommend it to fans of Reich or of Klaus Schulze (although Persian Surgery Dervishes doesn't sound anything like Schulze), especially those with a bit of patience and a lot of tolerance for poor sonic reproduction.

 A Rainbow In Curved Air by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.32 | 62 ratings

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A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is without a doubt a landmark in the world of minimalist music, and perhaps one of the finest examples of the style you're going to hear. I am not going to get into some intellectual ramblings, which seems to be a big habit when many review his music. I don't have some fancy PhD or from an upper-middle class background, what concerns me is the music. This album no doubt had a huge impact on the progressive electronic scene. You can notice the influence of this album and Terry Riley in general on Galactic Explorers' Epitaph For Venus (you can get this on CD on the Psi-Fi label), for example, and mid period Tangerine Dream probably would not be where they were without Riley. Outside the progressive electronic world Soft Machine was inspired by this. Make no doubt that "Out Bloody Rageous ", for example has this album written all over it, especially all those droning organs and those electric piano passages. "A Rainbow in Curved Air" (the track) features a bunch of overlapping organ and electric harpsichords, it seems a lot of tape loops are being used to create some of these effects heard here. He appears to use a Yamaha organ, rather than the standard Hammond organ. "Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band" features not just his reed playing, but a droning organ. This piece is really dark and ominous. It's hard to believe the recordings came out in 1969 (but composed some time earlier, apparently around 1966-67). it's definitely much more in tune with the next decade, as far removed from flower power, and images of psychedelic painted VW buses, as you can imagine but still have a psychedelic trip, but hardly a pop psychedelic trip like you would the Strawberry Alarm Clock's "Incense and Peppermints". This is nothing short of an essential album that's a must have.
 A Rainbow In Curved Air by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.32 | 62 ratings

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A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

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.

 In C by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.97 | 34 ratings

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In C
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Although TERRY RILEY actually composed his famous IN C way back in 1964, it didn't find a release as a recording until four years later. RILEY is famous for his minimalist approach to Western classical music with a healthy helping of jazz and Indian classical music as influences. Apparently the 60s was a time when composers were obsessed with finding ways to break down the barriers and limitations of the status quo by throwing all the accepted norms out the window and freeing themselves of set chord changes, scales and anything else that was thought to be "normal" for composers to accept.

IN C is interesting in that when played live it has no set duration. It can last a few minutes to several hours and every performance is improvised and therefore completely different. This one album is but a particular snapshot serving as a mere example of what you might hear if you happen to witness a live rendition. The whole thing is quite technical to explain and all the terminology including the term heterophonic which refers to different rhythmic displacements can easily be found on the internet.

Basically the whole thing begins on a C major chord with different patterns that recur by adding and subtracting different instruments. I would say it's kinda like you were walking down a very long hallway with rooms on each side and in each room there is a different instrument playing a subtly different part off of the C major chord. As you continue to walk you would hear the instruments you've already passed fade away while the ones you approach getting more prominent. Of course while all this is occurring some instruments begin and stop randomly.

It is all strange and unpredictable as to which rhythms and timbres will occur yet totally predictable as to which notes will continue during the 45 minutes of length, at least on my CD. Of course RILEY would go on to redefine music in other ways but on this album he shows that you can be academic in your approach and still make something pleasurable to listen to. Of course, this is one of those occasional listens since it is so strange as to be almost alien. I can hear how artists like Philip Glass and others were influenced by some of RILEY's approach. It seems the Acid Mother's Temple has done a version of this as well as many others.

 Happy Ending (OST) by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.66 | 13 ratings

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Happy Ending (OST)
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Masterful!

1972, what a year for Prog! But not all the "masterpieces", got the same attention. Quiet undeservingly, considering Terry Riley's music, influenced most of those guys. Riley's unpretentioness, didn't help much neither. Too much of an Artist, to run the "rat-race", he simply refused to use the marketing strategies, you needed to become "notable" (one of the many reasons, for the rise of the Rock in Opposition movement).

The best and easiest way, to explain this "Happy Ending", instrumental project, to newer Prog and Rock audiophiles, will be in terms of association.

So, ...imagine there is no religion. Just kidding!.. Imagine the synth-sequenced introduction to The Who's, "Baba O' Riley" (which holds on to the story, that it actually was a "tribute" or "cover" of Terry's musical language, although, I have read different versions, by Townshend, himself, so who knows?), anyway, imagine that "intro", as a whole musical composition, played with a hammond organ, alongside analog synths. That will turn out to be "Journey From the Death Of a Friend", the side "A", of this masterpiece album. This composition, will be a delight specially, for those who appreciate the Prog-Electronic sub genre. The side "B" composition, "Happy Ending", will please the experimental, Avant/Garde, RiO followers, who appreciate the Jazz influence, without the Jazz. Played with the hammond, a synth alongside a tenor sax, it provides a refreshing and beautiful counterpart, to the more "minimalistic" and faster, previous side.

Anyone who appreciates, or wants to learn a bit more, of the real, anonymous and powerful influence, Terry Riley's music has been , not only to Prog, but contemporary music, should just let the "Master" do the talking.

What else, *****5, rounded "BIG", PA stars!.........If you miss it, you were forewarned!

 In C (with Bang On A Can) by RILEY, TERRY album cover Live, 2001
4.00 | 4 ratings

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In C (with Bang On A Can)
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Terry Riley masterpiece in the hands of the hyper-active and creative "Bang on a Can" ensemble, in the, at least, twelfth version of this multi-experimental composition. The feeling as opposed to the original release, is more "world music" oriented, I mean, of course not the common association with the style, but that of the inherent musical "canon' non-western instruments possess. The use of a koto, ties you down to its tuning for example. So as expected fom this ensemble, no matter what or who they play, it is almost impossible to mistake them for someone else. That is almost miraculous, considering they have covered an extended line of works, of most of the contemporary composers, "classical" and not. (They have their own version of Brian Eno's "Music for Airports", also highly recommendable).

A masterpiece in the hands of "Bang on a Can", rarely loses, but the opposite, normally grows out, even from the original limits, and as if magic,developes branches that were even overlooked by the composer himself.

The 2nd best way to be introduced to this "ground breaking", ahead of its time, really not a Prog (although adopted in this sub-genre), more a classical music "Masterwork". The first original version is still the best for me, but this one comes as close as you can get with added drops of inspiration by this ensemble.

****4.5 PA stars.

Climb the ladder!

 In C by RILEY, TERRY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.97 | 34 ratings

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In C
Terry Riley Prog Related

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Terry Riley's In C is a modernistic piece of art from the mid 20th century. This is very progressive music and inspired a lot of musicians afterwards. I have to capitulate for it. Well it's rather monotonic and hard listened music but it's easy to hear how intelligent it is. Even if it sounds monotonic it changes a lot from the first minute to the fourty-second. The record features a bunch of great musicians. Terry Riley himself plays saxophone. What carries this music is the woodwind and brass instruments and a marimba that lies in the background the all the time. This is sounds from a modern time and sounds from the city. I got some flashbacks from the Medieval period in some moments. This tells us how music can be, totally wrong but also right. It's honest and almost religious in it's approach. I wouldn't consider this as my kind of music but I have to admit this is quality. It could also be a record that I will appreciate more in the future.
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