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#1 7/4

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 05:42 AM

The Wire 278, April 2007
Exclusive web only feature by Julian Cowley
Photo: Steve Jaffe

Terry Riley
Happy Endings

The minimalist composer discusses his film soundtracks. By Julian Cowley

"I never did have a desire to write film music, says Californian
minimalist composer Terry Riley. "But people approached me." The initial
approach came in 1972. "I was living in India at that time," he recalls,
"studying vocal music with Pandit Pran Nath. Director Joël Santoni
called from Paris and said he was making a film and he thought my music
would work well with it." Riley flew to France at the end of March that
year and recorded the soundtrack for Les Yeux Fermés (The Eyes Closed)
at Strawberry Studio, a converted chateau near Paris favoured during the
early 1970s by fashionable figures such as Elton John and David Bowie.

The vinyl release that transpired from that session was called Happy
Ending. It's long been a sought-after rarity and now, following
rediscovery of the original master tapes, it's being reissued on CD by
Tom Welsh's Elision Fields label, together with Riley's soundtrack to
Alexander Whitelaw's 1975 movie Le Secret De La Vie (Lifespan). In each
case the director had been captivated by Riley's "A Rainbow In Curved
Air" and "Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band", paired in 1969 on a
Columbia LP. In both instances a version of the film had been made using
extracts from that pre-existing music and Riley had been shown those
versions prior to entering the studio. "I wasn't involved in any other
way in the production process but I knew what their atmosphere was," he
recalls.

Happy Ending comprises two side-long pieces: the title track and
"Journey From A Death Of A Friend". Riley multi-tracked, played piano,
electronic keyboard and soprano saxophone with delay. Less
psychedelically brilliant and a little more homespun than A Rainbow In
Curved Air, it's nonetheless cut from the same cloth, hypnotically
repetitive yet energized by an improvisatory openness reminiscent of
ragas and of modal jazz. Les Yeux Fermés has lapsed into cinematic
obscurity. It involves a duel between friends, a suicide and a character
who feigns blindness with unexpected consequences. "It's a very static
film, with not a lot going on," Riley remarks. "The last 20 minutes or
so is a single shot. But it's a very interesting film psychologically. I
think if it were revived it would achieve cult status. Once when I
played in Japan it was shown there and was very well received."

Le Secret De La Vie has recently been resuscitated on DVD, generating
interest in part because the cast includes legendary German actor Klaus
Kinski. "It's another suicide film," Riley points out with an ironic
laugh. The twist in this tale is that the victim is a scientist who
claims he has discovered the secret of eternal life. He takes his life
while attending a conference in Amsterdam and the story then
investigates that paradoxical action. "It has a strange cartoon like
quality," Riley observes. "All the actors' voices are dubbed - even
though they were speaking English. Sandy Whitelaw had worked previously
as an engineer dubbing soundtracks and voiceovers. It was made on a low
budget; he filmed scenes of ordinary people in Amsterdam... with Kinski
wandering amongst them."

Riley flew from California to Holland to record the music for Whitelaw's
film. As before he approached the project as essentially the making of a
self-sufficient album - with more available studio time than he was
accustomed to. Although his compositions were designed to enhance mood
they were not tailored to the visual dimension in a narrowly
programmatic way. The issued disc has six tracks, Riley playing
keyboards and saxophone and singing too on the moody and mesmeric "In
The Summer". There's also the solo original of his alluring "G. Song",
which recurred with variations on Cadenza On The Night Plain
(GRAMAVISION CD), a 1984 collaboration with The Kronos Quartet.

In 1984, in Geneva on a concert tour, Riley and sitar player Krishna
Bhatt were approached by Swiss director Alain Tanner who asked them to
record versions of some of the music they were then performing as a
creative starting point for a film he was planning. They provided the
impetus and colouration Tanner required and the glistening, pulsating
music for No Man's Land documents another stage in the flux of influence
and invention that makes Riley's music so suggestive and exhilarating.

At the end of the 1990s Gary Todd's Cortical Foundation retrieved some
fascinating archival material of Riley music from the early 1960s,
derived in part the composer confides from "stuff sitting out in the
barn. The rats had eaten part of it and I was going to throw it away. I
was sceptical at first but after Gary did it I felt it there was
actually a case for it." Now after protracted research and negotiation
Tom Welsh's re-issue shifts attention to Riley's 1970s output.
Completists may have noted that Riley is credited with supplying music
for Michel Polac's 1973 film La Chute D'Un Corps (The Fall Of A Body)
but although selections from his earlier work were used he wasn't
invited to contribute anything new to that project. There is, however,
one more original soundtrack that remains tantalisingly unavailable at
present. In 1958 a five minute long documentary called Polyester Moon
celebrated the work of sculptor Claire Falkenstein. Photographed by
Anthony Denny, its improvised soundtrack featured Riley playing piano,
Pauline Oliveros on French horn and Loren Rush on koto. Nearly half a
century later, Riley keeps his music current. In May 2007 he will be
performing live at festivals in Scotland and Ireland.

By Julian Cowley

_____

This was an article published online only in addition to the cover
feature on Terry Riley from issue #278 April 2007

© 2007 The Wire.
http://www.thewire.co.uk/

Edited by 7/4, 27 December 2007 - 11:29 AM.


#2 7/4

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 08:28 AM

Terry Riley list

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 10:45 AM

Such a great photo. This came up in a conversation last night... what a gorgeous instrument.

#4 7/4

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:32 PM

That is a Pandit Pran Nath tambura, apparently he had specific specifications. I'd own one but I don't have room for it, plus those Indian instruments with gourds are so sensitive to temp and humidity I'd spend all my time tuning instead of singing. I'd love to have one...

#5 7/4

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:34 PM

There's more photos in the magazine. No, I don't own interest. :rfr

#6 rostasi

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 04:28 PM

I'm really excited about being able to replace LPs of
Les Yeux Fermes and Lifespan
with wonderfully clear (<cross-fingers>) CD sound.
These albums helped me thru stressful times in high school.
I hope TR decides to bring this Yamaha organ out of storage
for new works - lovely sound.

Other Music has decided to modernize
and offer digital downloads - plus they're
offering long(ish) samples of each cut from new releases.
The Riley is one of them.

R~~

#7 7/4

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 04:33 PM

I'm really excited about being able to replace LPs of
Les Yeux Fermes and Lifespan
with wonderfully clear (<cross-fingers>) CD sound.
These albums helped me thru stressful times in high school.


I have 'em on vinyl, but haven't heard them in years. Amazon just pushed back my delivery of this album - Delivery estimate: May 25, 2007 - June 11, 2007. I wonder if I can find it in NYC before they ship.

I hope TR decides to bring this Yamaha organ out of storage
for new works - lovely sound.


Me too. He's been talking about it for years. I'm all for him creating new music, but I'd really like to hear him play organ again.

#8 rostasi

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 04:38 PM

Call 'em up at Other Music and see if it's in stock.

If you've got the Riley "jones", apparently you can download it for $9.99.

R~~

#9 7/4

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 04:43 PM

Call 'em up at Other Music and see if it's in stock.

If you've got the Riley "jones", apparently you can download it for $9.99.

R~~



That's exactly where I was going, unless DMG has it. I can wait for the CD.

#10 J.H. Deeley

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 09:14 PM


I'm really excited about being able to replace LPs of
Les Yeux Fermes and Lifespan
with wonderfully clear (<cross-fingers>) CD sound.
These albums helped me thru stressful times in high school.


I have 'em on vinyl, but haven't heard them in years. Amazon just pushed back my delivery of this album - Delivery estimate: May 25, 2007 - June 11, 2007. I wonder if I can find it in NYC before they ship.


I saw it in a local(Philly) store today.

Edited by Chalupa, 23 April 2007 - 09:15 PM.


#11 7/4

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 12:11 AM



I'm really excited about being able to replace LPs of
Les Yeux Fermes and Lifespan
with wonderfully clear (<cross-fingers>) CD sound.
These albums helped me thru stressful times in high school.


I have 'em on vinyl, but haven't heard them in years. Amazon just pushed back my delivery of this album - Delivery estimate: May 25, 2007 - June 11, 2007. I wonder if I can find it in NYC before they ship.


I saw it in a local(Philly) store today.


I'll probably end up killing the Amazon order and getting it locally. It would be typical for them to have issues with a small label.

Edited by 7/4, 24 April 2007 - 11:02 AM.


#12 Tom Storer

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 03:54 AM

That is a Pandit Pran Nath tambura, apparently he had specific specifications. I'd own one but I don't have room for it, plus those Indian instruments with gourds are so sensitive to temp and humidity I'd spend all my time tuning instead of singing. I'd love to have one...


7/4, do you sing Indian classical music?

#13 7/4

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 10:22 AM


That is a Pandit Pran Nath tambura, apparently he had specific specifications. I'd own one but I don't have room for it, plus those Indian instruments with gourds are so sensitive to temp and humidity I'd spend all my time tuning instead of singing. I'd love to have one...


7/4, do you sing Indian classical music?


About 6 years ago I took a bunch of lessons, but didn't stick with it. I'm just not much of a singer. It sure would be nice to have a tambura to play, they sound amazing.

#14 7/4

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 12:09 PM

Call 'em up at Other Music and see if it's in stock.


Looks like I'll pick up a copy in the morning! :D

Edited by 7/4, 24 April 2007 - 02:15 PM.


#15 rostasi

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 02:42 PM

Great! Not sure what I'm gonna do here.
I'll check a couple of possibilities in the morning as well.

I love the tambura too!
Here's a short excerpt from a long performance of mine
that used multi-tracked tamburas:

Helsinki - March 31, 2007

#16 7/4

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 10:26 PM

Nice.

Did you ever hear the Tamburas of Pandi Pran Nath cd by La Monte Young? They love it because it's so in tune (it is, I've check it with a tuner).

Anyways...I picked up my Riley CD, it's great to hear it again after so many years. It's a mellower, different approach than the kaleidoscope of Shri Camel. But then, all those organ/tape delay albums were not Shri Camel.

#17 rostasi

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 11:06 PM

Nice.

Thanks, it was originally billed as a half-hour performance after I agreed to an hour. :wacko:
Then, they asked me if I was free to extend the performance, so I did - to three hours.

Did you ever hear the Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath CD by La Monte Young? They love it because it's so in tune (it is, I've check it with a tuner).

Yeah, it's a wonderful disc. Those tunings were the source of the Helsinki gallery piece that went thru various transformations.

Anyways...I picked up my Riley CD, it's great to hear it again after so many years.
It's a mellower, different approach than the kaleidoscope of Shri Camel.
But then, all those organ/tape delay albums were not Shri Camel.

I still haven't got it yet. I'm hoping that it'll be this weekend.
Haven't taken the time, but I've already convinced a couple of other people to pick it up.

#18 7/4

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:26 PM

Posted Image

#19 7/4

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 11:20 AM

Anyways...I picked up my Riley CD, it's great to hear it again after so many years.
It's a mellower, different approach than the kaleidoscope of Shri Camel.
But then, all those organ/tape delay albums were not Shri Camel.

I still haven't got it yet. I'm hoping that it'll be this weekend.
Haven't taken the time, but I've already convinced a couple of other people to pick it up.


Did you get your copy yet? :party:

#20 7/4

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 05:40 PM

eh? I can't hear you...

#21 rostasi

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 01:54 AM

Ooops! Sorry, it seems that your question slipped past me somehow.
I suppose that it took tonight's scanning of the article for a friend to
steer me here.
YES! I got it from Caiman in an instant a month ago
and I love it...still!

How many spins has it had around your place?
Now I know that somewhere around this house
is a copy of Persian Surgery Dervishes...

®ř∂

Edited by rostasi, 08 June 2007 - 08:50 AM.


#22 J.H. Deeley

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Posted 16 June 2007 - 01:51 PM

Well since TR doesn't have his own thread I thought I would post this little tidbit here....


http://www.philadelp...tml#chamberorch

#23 7/4

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 02:22 PM

How many spins has it had around your place?


Quite a few. There's that first few initial listens, then it sits until it gets rediscovered and makes it's way back over to the stereo.

#24 7/4

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 02:25 PM

Well since TR doesn't have his own thread I thought I would post this little tidbit here....

http://www.philadelp...tml#chamberorch


Thanks, :) now I have a quality color version of this: Posted Image

#25 7/4

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 02:26 PM

hmm...close, but they're different.

#26 7/4

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 07:08 PM

Baba O'Riley
On Terry Riley's Persian Surgery Dervishes

Posted Image
Terry Riley, Ingvar Loco Nordin, his son Ivan Nordin & Folke Rabe (1994)
Photo: Guido Zeccola
http://home.swipnet....ey.english.html



#27 7/4

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 11:49 PM

Terry Riley - A Rainbow in a curved air - 1969


Woah! My head!

#28 7/4

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:01 PM

I see there are new updates to TR's performing schedule.

And a new release, Terry Riley's Piano Concerto - Banana Humberto 2000.

New CD Release of Terry Riley's Piano Concerto
sri moonshine 004
Banana Humberto 2000
Recorded live at ODC Theater in San Francisco on OCT. 4 2002

SOLOISTS
Terry Riley, Steinway D Grand Piano
Paul Hanson, Bassoon with electronics
Tracy Silverman, Electric Viola with electronics

MEMBERS OF THE PAUL DRESHER ENSEMBLE
Paul Dresher Electric Guitar
Joel Davel Mallet kat
Marja Murtu Synthesizer
Gene Reffkin Midi Drums

Washed Ashore 18:20
The Maze 7:30
Goodbye Goodtime Blues for Milleniums Child 15:39
Danzero 13:28

BH2K was commissioned by the Paul Dresher Ensemble and first performed on Feb. 10, 2001 at. Stanford University as part of the Lively Arts Festival and featured Terry Riley as piano soloist. The fifty-minute work is in four movements.
The work takes the form of a chamber concerto and was written specifically for the performance capabilities of the Dresher Ensemble and guest soloist Tracy Silverman on Electric Viola.

The first movement is the most classical in form and content opening with a piano solo that leads to the opening theme. After variations on the opening them the driving secondary subject is introduced and then combined with the opening theme. There follows more secondary themes that lead into the spacious Chorale from which the movement derives it’s name.
Then follows a piano cadenza that leads to the Eastern sounding Coda, which concludes the movement.

The Maze is a Labyrinthine movement based on polymetric patterns that float over a 17 beat rhythmic cycle. It is scored in an open way to allow the ensemble choices on how to assemble the flow of the music

Goodbye Goodtimes Blues for Millenniums Child is my one Millennium piece, feeling fortunate to be one of those having a foot in both the 20th and 21st centuries.. The inspiration was to create an old time blues tune, reminiscent of the music of the 20’s and 30’s that gives way to a more hard core version of 21st century Blues showing how this old “American Raga” is capable of so many expressions as it crosses over this imaginary time marker. This movement is open to large sections of improvisation.

Danzero, a made-up name for a movement with south American flavoring. It is the concluding movement containing shifting rhythms and tempos combining the tunefulness of Brazilian Choros superimposed on compound and polyrhythmic structures. Toward the end of the movement there are many improvised solos over the Latin groove that impels the highly energized ending.



#29 David Gitin

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:21 PM

Perhaps some of you will be interested in the CD by Terry Riley & Michael McClure I LIKE YOUR EYES LIBERTY which includes Terry's remarkable settings for Michael's poetry, issued by Sri Moonshine in 2004. Check out Terry Riley dot com.

#30 WD45

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 10:19 AM

Church of Anthrax, anyone?




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