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A Rainbow In Curved Air is Terry Riley’s masterpiece of ambient music from 1969, before the term itself was even coined. Using nothing more complex than several tape recorders and overdubs, Riley created a genuine one-off triumph. Hard to classify at the time and probably still is.

After several graph compositions and early pattern pieces with jazz ensembles in the late ’50s and early ’60s (see “Concert for Two Pianists and Tape Recorders” and “Ear Piece” in La Monte Young’s book An Anthology), Riley invented a whole new music which has since gone under many names (minimal music — a category often applied to sustained pieces as well — pattern music, phase music, etc.) which is set forth in its purest form in the famous “In C” (1964) (for saxophone and ensemble, CBS MK 7178). “Rainbow in Curved Air” demonstrates the straightforward pattern technique but also has Riley improvising with the patterns, making gorgeous timbre changes on the synthesizers and organs, and presenting contrasting sections that has become the basic structuring of his works (“Candenza on the Night Plain” and other pieces). Scored for large orchestra with extra percussion and electronics, some of this work’s seven movements are: “Star Night,” “Blue Lotus,” “The Earth Below,” and “Island of the Rhumba King.”

– “Blue” Gene Tyranny Allmusic.com (9/10) –

LP Track listing
A1 A Rainbow In Curved Air (18:44)
B1 Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band (21:39)
Total Time: (40:03)

Side 1: Electric Organ, Electric, ‘Rocksichord’ Harpsichord, Goblet Drum (Dumbec), Tambourine: Terry Riley
Side 2: Soprano Saxophone, Electric Organ: Terry Riley

Engineer: Glen Kolotkin, Roy Segal
Producer: David Behrman
Artwork: Virginia Team (Columbia LP Back), John Berg (Columbia LP Front)

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