Published Nov 19, 2014Portishead's Adrian Utley isn't the only contemporary musician dedicated to recreating Terry Riley's iconic 1964 minimalist piece In C. Now, Blur/Gorillaz leader Damon Albarn and his Africa Express project are celebrating the composition's 50th anniversary by releasing a version called Africa Express Presents… Terry Riley's In C Mali. It will be out digitally on November 24 through Transgressive Records, with CD and vinyl to follow on January 26.
This 41-minute version was recorded last year in Bamako, Mali. Along with local musicians, participants include Albarn, Brian Eno, Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, and frequent Albarn collaborator Jeff Wootton. The album was co-produced and mixed by Mouse on Mars' Andi Toma.
On the 50th anniversary of In C's premiere (which was on November 4), Riley said this of the new version: "I am overwhelmed and delighted by this CD. I was not quite prepared for such an incredible journey, hearing the soul of Africa in joyous flight over those 53 patterns of In C. This ensemble feeds the piece with ancient threads of musical wisdom and humanity indicating to me that this work is a vessel ready to receive and be shaped by the spontaneous feelings and colours of the magician/musician. I could not ask for a greater gift for this daughter's 50th birthday."
Below, listen to a five-minute extract from the piece. It sounds more or less as you would imagine: it's got the hypnotic repetition of In C, but with African-flavoured instrumentation.
In addition to the album version, Africa Express will be releasing an interactive online film based on a live performance of In C at the Tate Modern, which took place this fall. Co-commissioned by the Space, it will show the performance intercut with other minimalist art. Tate Modern and Africa Express Present… Terry Riley's In C Mali will be released here on November 28.