Terry Riley – The Last Camel in Paris, Théâtre Edouard VIII, Paris, 10 November 1978
(Elision Fields EF102)
Recorded in Paris, France more than a year before the release of that milestone album Shri Camel, this is the best live recording I’ve heard of American composer Terry Riley’s legendary organ concerts. Performed on a modified Yamaha YC-45D portable electric organ tuned in just intonation through his legendary Time Lag Accumulator system of tape loops and echoes, his composition/improvisation has a mellow evening psychedelic trance feel. Influenced by his studies with the late Hindustani raga master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, he travels through a post-minimalist territory of drones and modal improvisations in a fifty four minute performance. Although this recording shares musical themes with the studio recording of Shri Camel, one of the main differences is technological. The delay system in the studio was digital, while the live system was analog tape. I’m always waiting for something new to pop out of Riley’s archives and into circulation. This one is a gem. If Elision Fields can come up with this for release, I have high hopes that there are additional jewels in the vault perfect for consumption by the hordes of listeners like me hungry for more.
Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.