Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble

Terry Riley: In C Remixed

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Innova's two-disc In C Remixed contains a 21-minute performance by Terry Riley's minimalist masterpiece In C by the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, who on a previous Innova release demonstrated an extraordinary acumen with Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. This is aided and abetted by 18 different remixes from In C by mix masters ranging from DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid to Nico Muhly to the group Kleerup. Although it remains the longest work on the set, needless to say the original In C -- held off until the end of the second disc -- is dwarfed by the sheer bulk of remixes here; however, in albums like this the source piece seldom proves to be the center of the attraction. Nevertheless, the concept behind this compilation makes perfect sense, as Riley was one of the first artists in music to sample and hold audio, albeit in the course of live performances, with source material he was playing in real time and without the benefit of digital gadgets and technology. Needless to say we have come a long way in this respect, and if Riley hadn't been there cultivating a need for such technology we probably wouldn't have had it in the first place.

Even in Riley's own work he was using loops and samples to transform the music he was making into something else, which is what a mix master does. However, it's less usual for a mix master to utilize a single source for purposes of transformation; rather, a multiplicity of sounds is more typical. While the participants are permitted to utilize beat generators to realize the various remixes throughout the album -- DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid even uses a live drummer -- the bulk of the material is drawn from the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble's In C recording, though during one mix a live electric guitar appears to be added. As one might imagine, the result is quite varied, ranging from entirely successful (Masonic) to not successful at all (Kleerup) though that could be largely interpreted as a matter of opinion. A couple of the artists involved, such as Phil Kline and David Lang, dispense with the tyranny of the beat entirely and remix toward a more experimental end. Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble's performance of In C is very good, but is short compared to the average performance and some aspects of it feel arranged, though the last couple of minutes of its realization do devolve into the familiar chaos one naturally associates with In C. Innova's In C Remixed is a very good collection and a better concept; some artists have more than one mix and one wishes the wealth could have been spread to include a couple of more composers, and chances are listeners will tend to gravitate toward certain performances for repeated listens and not to others. Nevertheless, one can hardly think of a more imaginative and appropriate way to pay tribute to the genius of Terry Riley.

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