Not to put too fine a point on it, but Terry Riley's music is my religion, my drugs, my ultimate source of peace—although not necessarily in that order. In my musical pantheon, he occupies the upper echelon, along with Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, Can, Funkadelic, Jon Hassell, Brian Eno, and Wolfgang Dauner. The 84-year-old California composer/keyboardist has become one of the most influential musicians of the last 50 years among artists seeking to tap into that ocean of sound at the intersection of minimalist composition, drone, and tape-based experimentation. While Riley's music is revered by the more freethinking academics, it doesn't come off as dry and stuffy, like much highbrow output from the neoclassical realm does. Rather, his epic trance-outs are redolent of outdoor raves, psychedelic jam band shows, and Indian raga concerts in the way they accrue a hallucinogenic effect over long durations. Imbued with a pantheistic spiritual profundity, Riley's music seeks to immerse you in the infinite. For more insight into Riley’s career, check out a December interview I conducted with him, “Music Is the Path to Reach Out Toward the Unknown,” at thestranger.com/terryriley.
by Stranger Writer Dave Segal
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