Hear Portishead axeman Adrian Utley‘s extensive reinterpretation of Terry Riley’s minimalist touchstone ‘In C’

Riley’s oft-recorded 1964 work remains one of – if not the – most iconic pieces in 20th century minimalism. Riley’s piecemeal score, made up 53 individual musical phrases of varying length which performers can layer and repeat as they choose, has inspired many different renditions, ranging from minute-long micro-versions through to extremely long-form readings.

Utley’s version features assistance from his specially assembled ‘Guitar Orchestra’, featuring 24 Bristol-based musicians, John Parrish and Jim Barr among them. The recording, made earlier this year at Bristol’s St. George’s Hall, will be made available to buy through Invada later this month. Making use of 19 guitars, four organs and a bass clarinet, Utley’s version makes for stunning listening – a gorgeous, thickly woven tapestry of massed electric guitar. Click below to stream it in full, courtesy of The Quietus.

Utley has said the following about the piece.

“I’ve been exploring the sonic possibilities of massed guitars for a while now in various contexts from pure noise to the sacred choral music of Arvo Part.  So it was interesting to see what would happen if we had 20 electric guitars plus organs playing ‘In C’.  It is an amazing piece of writing and original thought.  A new free idea of organised group playing.  The beginnings of what we know as minimalism.”

In C is due on Invada on October 14. For another perspective on the impact of Riley’s work, check our recent interview with ambient pioneer Robert Rich.

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