Sunday, February 06, 2005

Cosmic Soul All Nighter...

Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band, All Night Flight,
Live 1968 S.U.N.Y. Buffalo NY 10pm-6am v.1
Purple Modal Strobe Ecstacy with the Daughters of Destruction

The '60s were thick with Coltrane imitators. "Giant Steps" era. Sheets of sound, not the later later period screaming beauty. And a lot of them took up soprano, too, usually after hearing his version of "My Favourite Things". It's an incredible, head spinning take on the tune from a universe far, far away from those pesky singing kids (and nuns).

Everyone who picks up the instrument follows Coltrane, no question. The trick is to take as interesting route as you can, given your skill, imagination and ingenuity.

Enter Terry Riley. In the 60's he was doing all nighters. 10pm kick off, wind up at about 6am. Over those hours he processed hall of mirrors soprano sax figures that spiralled on for an eternity thanks to his time lag accumulator (delay unit to you and me).

I imagine at least half the audience was completely off its gourd so God knows what he was doing to the collective psyche. This was trance but in the Master Musicians of Jajouka meaning of the word, not Chicane.

Riley was far from alone in re-imagining music from outside the European tradition: Coltrane's studies of Indian music are all over his version of the Sound Of Music tune, Angus Maclise was producing amazing lengthy cimbalom drones prior to his relocation to the East, and of course everyone was buying cheap sitars thanks to George Harrison. Where did it end? It didn't. It can't.

I won't pretend to be an expert on this stuff and I'm sure there is at least one university course that would give you the chance to spend three years pulling it all apart. But there is nothing wrong with being a tourist, taking a turn around this hall of mirrors. Don't bump into anything while you're looking up at the ceiling.

Buy - From Sri Moonshine Music
Visit - Terry Riley
Visit - Cortical Foundation


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