Terry Riley

Les Yeux Fermés / Lifespan [Soundtracks]

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Terry Riley wrote Les Yeux Fermés and Lifespan as the soundtracks for independent films released in the 1970s. Les Yeux Fermés uses classic elements of minimalism -- a steady pulse, repeated patterns, and a tonal harmonic framework -- but is far from the "pure" minimalism of In C. Les Yeux Fermés (1972) directed and produced by Joël Santoni, and the soundtrack consists of two long movements. They begin with electronic organ or saxophones in tape loops over which Riley gradually adds improvisations on organ, saxophones, and piano. Once Riley's mellow improvisations begin, they mitigate the repetitions and the result is more like jazz than minimalism. For Lifespan (1974), a thriller directed and produced by Alexander Whitelaw, Riley wrote six shorter movements using a broader spectrum of instruments and sounds, and while they all involve elements of repetition, they wouldn't be called minimalist -- they are jazz improvisations. Each has a distinct character and many of them reflect the mysticism that characterizes much of Riley's work. The sound quality is excellent -- bright and clear. This music has never been released digitally, so the CD should be of strong interest to fans of Riley's music and of the '70s new music scene that straddled classical and popular traditions.

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