Published Jul 05, 2013While Portishead have continued to promise that a new album will eventually arrive, we've instead caught wind of a string of side-projects, including Beth Gibbons's forthcoming solo album and Geoff Barrow's vehicles BEAK>, Quakers and DROKK. Now, guitarist Adrian Utley has got in on the fun by preparing an interpretation of Terry Riley's influential minimalist composition In C. It's due out on September 30 in the UK on Invada Records.
Utley performed the landmark 1964 composition with his Bristol-based Guitar Orchestra consisting of 24 electric guitars, four organs and a bass clarinet. Among the guitarists are John Parish (of PJ Harvey's band), Thought Forms and Jim Barr (of Portishead's live band). The ensemble recorded the piece at St. George's Hall in Bristol.
Utley said in a statement, "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 organized group playing. The beginnings of what we know as minimalism."
The iconic In C consists of 53 musical phrases, which are played in order with each one repeated a random number of times. There is no fixed duration, and the musicians involved played at different times, meaning that each performance is unique. It's often seen as key in establishing minimalism as a genre.
Watch a video for a five-minute extract from the piece below.
Last year, Utley released an ambient soundscape for the UK series Sonic Journeys.