Terry Riley - Descending Moonshine Dervishes LP


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Label: Beacon Sound

Our Review:

Originally released on the German kosmische label Kuckuck in 1982, Descending Moonshine Dervishes is taken from a 1975 recording of a live, mostly improvised performance in Berlin. In it, Riley utilizes a modified Yamaha organ with variable resistors to facilitate just intonation. It's nearly the same set-up as his live recordings from the early seventies documented in the sprawling 1972 release Persian Surgery Dervishes, a companion piece to this one for sure yet with different improvised results. Channeling Sufi mysticism, Indian classical structures and minimalist composition strategies, the two parts of this energetic yet meditative 50-minute performance weave through divergent clusters of repeated motifs: a bass-end grounding progression, a mid-tone counterpoint and a high-end crystalline swarm of bouncing and buzzing tones that feels analogous to fast-moving molecular activity. Its hypnotic shifting progressions, like the ecstatic whirling dervishes that inspired the naming of these pieces, have the strange vibrating feeling of being removed from linear time and witnessing the great big cosmic picture mapped out before us. A stellar remastered reissue on vinyl for the first time since its original release. Limited repress. Don't sleep!