This Just In: In C

I’m stoked to have one of my all-time favorite records in the store this week, Terry Riley’s In C. If you’re into classical, minimal, avant-garde or anything that takes patient, attentive listening, please check this out if you haven’t already. Since I’m not always the best with words, I’ll let classical music writer Tom Service speak about In C’s history, theory and significance… And don’t forget the ultra-mega list of other titles we have in this week down below!

Terry Riley – In C 180g LP:
“…When Riley came up with In C on a bus ride in San Francisco, it was a piece that was important to him for different reasons. The work crystallised his musical thinking up to that point (as Keith Potter reveals in his book Four Musical Minimalists): his interest in improvisation – already cultivated thanks to collaborations with Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick and others – and his love of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. In C also reflected and refracted the inspiration of the repetitive musical structures he had heard and loved in north African music. It was written as a piece that was defined by the interactions between the members of a diverse group of musicians and which would be different in terms of duration, structure and tempo every time it was played. And, like so many of the greatest musical breakthroughs, In C is simple to understand, but rich, subtle and diverse when you hear it performed.

In C’s score is made from 53 musical modules, fragments of musical material and melodies (and not all of them in the key of C either. As the piece progresses, different waves of pitch-centres and modalities are cycled through.) The players move steadily through the fragments, although they can omit them as well, and the modules can be played faster or slower than they’re written, accompanied by an ever-present chiming octave C in a piano or mallet instrument. (The idea for that time-keeping piano part could have been Steve Reich’s, who, along with Oliveros and Subotnick, was part of the ensemble who played the piece for the first time at the San Francisco Tape Centre.) How many times each is repeated, and how long a performance lasts, will vary each time the piece is played by different forces: it’s possible to race through it in 20 minutes, or to luxuriate in it for an hour and a half.

Part of In C’s notoriety is that it also seems to embody the hippy-ish sensibility of west coast America at the time, and to evoke a trippy, blissed-out state of musical mind. (On his own use of drugs, Riley told William Duckworth that LSD was ‘the element of the consciousness-raising movement … [with] marijuana as a sister drug … It had a lot to do with those times, you know. There was something emerging then that people were hungry for: almost as a public at large, especially young people. I know we weren’t interested in making money. We were really only interested in having these mystical experiences.’). But that’s to miss the point of In C’s musical qualities, and its subtly brilliant answer to the conundrum of how you create a piece that simultaneously empowers its performers and insists that they listen to each other and take responsibility for the performance as much as the composer, but which is also always essentially itself, a piece that cannot be mistaken for any other. In C does that brilliantly. Along with Cardew’s ‘Paragraph 7’ from The Great Learning, it’s as elegant and beautiful a solution as there is.”  -Tom Service (UK Guardian)


In A-Z: New releases, reissues and restocks…
2Pac – All Eyez On Me 4LP
A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms 2LP
Adolescents – S/T LP
Against Me! – Is Reinventing Axl Rose LP
Agnostic Front – Victim In Pain LP
Alex Chilton – Electricity By Candlelight LP
American Football – S/T LP
Andy Stott – Luxury Problems 2LP
Anna Calvi – One Breath CD
Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted And Black LP
Au Pairs – Playing With A Different Sex LP
Bad Religion – How Could Hell Be Any Worse? LP
Beatles – In The Beginning LP
Bikini Kill – S/T 12”
Big Star – Radio City LP
Camera Obscura – Break It To You Gently 7”
Christian Death – Only Theatre Of Pain LP
Circle Jerks – Group Sex LP
Clash – Black Market Clash 10”
Cock Sparrer – Shock Troops LP
Curtis Mayfield – Curtis LP
Cream – Disraeli Gears LP
Darkside – Psychic 2LP, CD
Deafheaven – Sunbather 2LP
Deftones – Saturday Night Wrist LP
Doors – S/T LP
Eddie Gale – Ghetto Music LP
Elf Power – Sunlight On The Moon LP
Fred McDowell – I Don’t Play No Rock ‘N’ Roll LP
Gang Of Four – Solid Gold LP
Gaslight Anthem – 59 Sound LP
Ghostface Killah – 12 Reasons To Die LP
Geraldine Fibbers – Butch LP
Glasser – Interiors LP
Guitar Wolf – Beast Vibrator LP, Jet Satisfaction 10”, Spacebattleshiplove LP
Gun Club – Fire of Love LP
GZA/Genius – Pro Tools 2LP
FKA twigs – EP2 12”
Flaming Lips – Hear It Is LP
Fugazi – Instrument LP, Margin Walker LP, Repeater LP
Herbie Hancock – Crossings LP
Hi-Tek – Hi-Teknology 2 2LP
Hula – Murmur LP
Jackie Mittoo – In Cold Blood LP
James Blackshaw & Lubomyr Melnyk – Watchers LP
Jawbreaker – Dear You LP
Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison LP
Joe Meek – I Hear A New World LP
Joy Division – London 1980 LP
Justice – Cross 2LP
King Tubby – Rastafari Dub LP
Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity LP
Lee Ranaldo & The Dust – Last Night On Earth 2LP, CD
Lemuria – The Distance Is So Big LP
Lightnin’ Hopkins – Lightnin’ And The Blues LP
Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film LP
Mazzy Star – She Hangs Brightly LP
Mulatu And his Ethiopian Quartet – Afro-Latin Soul LP
Naked & Famous – In Rolling Waves LP
Native Cats – Dallas LP
Naughty By Nature – S/T LP
Neu! – Neu! LP
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Nocturama 2LP
Nina Simone – Little Girl Blue LP
Nirvana – In Utero 20th Anniversary Edition 3LP
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton LP
Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar LP, CD
Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return To The 36 Chambers LP
Otis Redding – Pain In My Heart LP
Parquet Courts – Tally All The Things That You Broke EP 12”
Primitive Calculators – S/T LP
Queens Of The Stone Age – Era Vulgaris 3×10”
Raw Nerves – Futile Efforts LP
Red Fang – Whales & Leeches LP
Rival Schools – Found LP
Scott Walker – Scott LP
Serge Gainsbourg – Initials BB LP
Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals LP, CD
Silverchair – Frogstomp 2LP
Sun Ra – Continuation LP, Cosmic Tones LP, Universe In Blue LP
Thelonious Monk – Misterioso LP
Tom Waits – Real Gone LP
Unicorn Hard-On – Weird Universe LP
Upsetters – Blackboard Jungle Dub LP
Various – Afro-Beat Airways Vol. 2 2LP
Various – Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas LP
Various – Wizzz Vol. 1 LP
Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat LP
Velvet Underground & Nico – S/T LP
Weezer – Pinkerton LP
Wipers – Is This Real? LP
Wu-Tang – Biochemical Equation LP, Meets The Indie Culture Vol. 1 2LP
Young Echo – Nexus 2LP

2 thoughts on “This Just In: In C

  1. hola emilie
    i was the first to get terry riley
    I wait long time for this reissue
    if u find Pauline oliveros , john cage , any
    minimalist i’ll get it
    being much older than you I’m surprise
    of your music knowledge
    I will get that compilation of kraftwerk music
    thank you
    peace out

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