September 4, 2012

20,000 Vinyl LPs 8: Terry Riley - A Rainbow In Curved Air

I started the Vinyl LP series because I have over 20,000 albums I am selling; each blog entry of the series is about an album from my collection. Inquire for more information.

I remember being very, very, VERY stoned late in 1969 at a friend's house and hearing a piece of music the like of which I'd never heard before. It was rhythmic, fast and seemed to last an eternity. In those days, unless it was a piece of classical music, 18 minutes and 39 seconds was an eternity even if you weren't stoned. Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield hadn't hit the music scene yet with their half-hour long pieces. I was mesmerized and nailed to the spot, whatever spot I was in at that moment; it could have been a bean bag (it had just been invented) but it could have been the floor, I can't recall. But I will never forget the experience of hearing it for the first time.

The music was Terry Riley's, A Rainbow in Curved Air from the album of the same name. The next day I rushed out and bought the album (not much of a surprise). It was one of the albums I recorded on tape as I knew I would play it to death, and I did (the tape, not the record which is still pristine).

 (click on any image to see slideshow)
A Rainbow in Curved Air album cover
front cover montage by John Berg
photo of album cover by Styrous®

A Rainbow in Curved Air album cover back
back cover illustration by Virginia Team
photo of album cover back by Styrous®

I kept up with Riley's music career and bought all the music he produced thereafter, In C was his follow up album. I listened to his music for decades then had the incredible luck to see, hear and photograph him in concert exactly 40 years later in 2009 at the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM).

Now I ask: How can anyone be so lucky?

Some background

A Rainbow in Curved Air was the third album by Terry Riley who is an experimental music and classical minimalism pioneer. Through the use of overdubbing, Riley, a keyboard virtuoso, played all the instruments on the title track: electric organ, electric harpsichord (Rock-Si-Chord), dumbec (or goblet drum), and tambourine.

photo by Kevin Hartnell

The album was recorded from 1967 to 1968 and released in 1969. The producer for the album was David Behrman one of the founders of The Sonic Arts Union along with Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma. These people have worked with music luminaries such as John Cage (his 100th birthday is this month) and David Tudor. The element uniting these divergent individuals, according to David Behrman, was the desire to create pieces "in which established techniques were thrown away and the nature of sound was dealt with from scratch."

The entire 18 minutes and 39 seconds of A Rainbow In Curved Air can be heard on YouTube.

Born in Colfax, California, Riley studied at Shasta College, San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Conservatory before earning an MA in composition at the University of California, Berkeley, studying with Seymour Shifrin and Robert Erickson. He was involved in the experimental San Francisco Tape Music Center working with Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, and Ramon Sender.

My thanks to all these creative people who have given me such pleasure.

The entire collection is for sale. Interested? Contact Styrous®

Styrous® ~ September 4, 2012


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