It has been 50 years ago that Terry Riley composed his masterpiece ‘In C’. This is a semi-aleatoric piece written for 35 musicians in the year 1964 and is the first minimalistic compositian ever. For the classical trained among us: the composition excists of 53 short numbered musical lines which vary from a half beat to 32 beats and a repeated as often as the conductor wants. Therefor you never know how long the piece will be, but it is played between the 45 and 90 minutes.
The Africal Express is innovatory in the hands of André de Ridder, a German conductor who is known for his groundbreaking program and projects. He has worked with contemporary music specialists e.g. musicFabrik, Gorillaz and Uri Caine.
The first African version of this piece unites a group Malian musicians with Brian Eno, Damon Albarn and Jeff Wootton. Instead of making an exact copy of the origial the add their own componernts but also keep the flute and strings. These new collaborations create wonderful interplay, spoken intermezzo and solo’s that take you on a journey when closing your eyes.
The piece was played live in the Tate Modern in London on November 2nd 2014, which was also recorded on tape.
The ‘Africa Express presents Terry Riley’s In C Mali’ EP was available since November as a download and now it is also available on CD and vinyl. This collectors item is a must-have for the classical lover, but others will love this EP as well. Putting the LP on the player makes you instantly feel like you are in Africa.
The record ended up on the RollingStone list: 20 Best Avant Albums of 2014, on number 16. They say that despite being a blend of Americal minimalism, African percussion and British musicians, this one-of-a-kind interpretation ends up sounding mostly familiar. 50 years ago Riley was inspired by the repetitive circles of music coming from Saharan Africa, ultimately imbuing their hypnotic feel with his own ideas of chance, interplay and melody. Now a days the African sound is ubiquitous, Tinariven plays Coachella, NPR spins Ballaké Sissoko and we all heard the sounds of the djembe.
Watch the official trailer by African Express In C Mali here: