Bang On A Can All-Stars, Terry Riley In C

Jess Harvell

By Jess Harvell

on 01.18.11 in Reviews
Here it is, the Big Bang of Minimalism

Written in two days following an interminably long bus ride, Terry Riley's breakthrough work In C took the tape loops he and his contemporaries had been experimenting with and transposed their repetition to instruments played with fingers and breath. Tape loops had always had a relatively rough, human edge because they were snipped with razors rather than coded as 1s and 0s, and here the human players build from a simple pulse, cycling through 53 melodic motifs that interlock like cogs, producing a shimmer like the gongs of Balinese gamelan. From the head of In Csprings everything from the cycling roundabouts of Steve Reich and Philip Glass to post-rock like Tortoise.