Riley: In C/Salt Lake Electric Ensemble

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

Ever wonder what a six-laptop, software-driven, multi-media, audio/visual rendition of Terry Riley’s Minimalist manifesto In C sounds like, abetted by live acoustic percussion? Here’s your chance to find out, minus the visual component. The concept has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, computer-based performance ensures absolute rhythmic precision and zero physical fatigue. The Salt Lake Electric Ensemble based its meticulous, carefully calibrated performance around a steady 85 beats per minute pulse, in contrast to the quicker norm. This allows for rapid patterns to overlap with greater ease and comfort in close proximity. You notice this in the lengthy sequence of phrases based on rising scales, starting around 20 minutes and 32 seconds into the performance.

At the same time, the textures tend to be sparse, transparent, and spacious. Because electronic sonorities tend to sound as if they derive from the same source, it’s hard to perceive the spontaneous physical interaction and interplay that typify “unplugged” In C performances, or to appreciate the diversity in phrasing and execution that results from the fact that some of the work’s 53 melodic patterns are easier to manage on certain instruments, yet not on others. While this all-electric In C, which is available as download, CD, or DVD at Sleearts.com, is beautiful in its own way, the above-mentioned reference versions truly bring out the music’s unfettered joy.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Riley (New Albion), Bang On A Can All Stars (Cantaloupe)

TERRY RILEY - In C


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