With a name like a North Yorkshire mechanic, Terry Riley, otherwise known as,'The Godfather of Minimalism" ,it was inevitable that he would slip down the minimalism pecking order behind the more exoticly named Steve Reich, and Philip Glass;but, he was certainly there at the year zero of repetitive structures alongside his californian chum, LaMonte Young.....which one was the actual 'Godfather of Minimalism' is up for conjecture,but i'm in the LaMonte court.Both were disciples of Indian classical vocalist Pandit Pran Nath,and both moved to New York around the same time."In C"is often cited as the first minimalist composition,though La Monte Young's drone compositions preceded it by several years....but,as for repetitive rythmic minimalism,with 1964 scribbled on his CV, he's in with a shout.Although it was Steve Reich introduced the idea of a rhythmic pulse to Riley, who accepted it thirstily, thus radically altering the original "In C" composition,which had no rhythm.....just like yer average white man.
Riley quickly slipped into the hippie meditation music genre,grew his hair and beard,and was responsible for many of these unwashed future wall street wolves, sitting cross legged in the lotus position for hours,only getting up to turn "In C" over to side two every half an hour or so.
If you listen to the 1964/1970 version of "In C", there's very little minimalism in it so far as instrumentation is concerned, and even gets a bit James Last towards the end, with some groovy silver-haired Discothéque bass playing that the master of 'easy' would have killed for.Going on to conclude that never completed Minimalist Medley he was working on before his death!
Written in 1964, it says here,but It wasn't until 1968 that Riley began to sound like the work that Steve Reich would become famous for.Then he started dabbling with underground pop stardom, and hanging out with Cale,Bowie, Fripp and Eno. That kind of behaviour rightly demoted him to the semi-serious composer ranks,leaving the chin-stroking spoils for Glass and Reich to reap.
At least he was one of the few of the LaMonte Young crew that wasn't in the Velvet Underground at some point.Lucky escape.
1. In C (41:57)
2. In C (1964&1970) (29:27)
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