Atlantis Nath


Terry Riley [voice, piano, synthesizer, midi realization] – Luc Martinez [recording & sound design on Mosque, sound design on Ascención Final Chord Rising, field recordings from India, mix and mastering] – Frederic Lepée acoustic fretless guitar and acoustic percussion on Only a Day, conducting on Remember This] – John Deaderick [spoken text on The Crucifixion of My Humble Self] – The Nice Opera String Quartet [on Remember This] – Adolf Woelfli [text of The Crucifixion of My Humble Self] – Chris Harvey [illustrations & design]
Mosque and Ascención Final Chord Rising composed by Luc Martinez. Wedding Song co-composed by Terry Riley and Luc Martinez. The rest of the pieces composed by Terry Riley.

Sri Moonshine Music SMM 001

1. Crucifixion Voices [5:43]
2. Mosque [1:06]
3. Derveshum Carnivalis [3:06]
4. Wedding Song [2:08]
5. Emerald Runner [13:18]
6. Gha Ten in Darbari [4:35]
7. Asención [15:23]
8. Asención Final Chord Rising [2:22]
9. Remember This [6:01]
10. Only a Day [6:04]
11. Even Your Beloved Wife [4:53]
12. The Crucifixion of My Humble Self [9:22]

After riding the smallest and most claustrophobic hotel lift in Stockholm (or anywhere, I would say!) with Mr. Riley at the end of May 2002, accompanying him after a concert rendering of a lively Tread On The Trail, while Mr. Stefano Scodanibbio ran up the stairs, I was granted this beautiful issue from the Ranch; Atlantis Nath in all its packaging splendor, which attracted my senses heavily long before I heard the sounding content, solely by its visual properties! We thank the designer of the artwork and the concept – Chris Harvey – for this formidable impression at first sight.

Terry Riley takes on the role and guise of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (sorry, Mr. Adams, in your hereafter!) on this new magnificence of a sound carrier, soaring us through the many layers and levels of the living beings of the Universe.
This release constitutes something very new from Terry Riley, while simultaneously showing all the characteristics of his earlier output, in a kind of medley fashion, wherein Riley sort of drifts in and out of the styles and atmospheres of his whole artistic and philosophical life, as if rambling through a Rileyish dreamscape of caring thoughts and comforting insights.

Terry Riley at his seminar at Nalen, Stockholm 23rd May 2002
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Riley comes at us here as a jazzman dressed in garlands of ebony and ivory, as a Californian cable car fortuneteller, as the mystic which we have come to treasure through the Eastern hypnosis of Persian Surgery Dervishes and as the collector of justly tuned dreams of the Indian sub-continent on the Shri Camel album, or as the introspective contemplator of loss in Journey From a Death of a Friend, or indeed as the lush conjurer of timeless Kronos Quartet collaborations and as the generous disperser of North American Indian good medicine. He’s here on Atlantis Nath in all these shapes, handing down visions and revelations of all these colors, all these vibrations, in a reassuring comfort of spiritual intuition.

Atlantis Nath is a kind of overview of - or a look-out point in - the unparalleled career of this, by now, aged and gray-haired, but undefeated upright Seigneur of the ether and the noble sound currents of our atmosphere, who never gives up his fight for a coming-to-the-senses of outrageous war- mongers and nearsighted politicians of our present times, which is revealed not only through his music, but also through his verbal, persuasive battles on the Internet, calling one and all to their battle-stations of peace, sense and wisdom. Through him speak the sages and the shamans, the medicine men and the sorcerers – and ancient Hopi tales of distant times, through which we live now.

Ingvar Loco Nordin (your reviewer...), Folke Rabe & Terry Riley
at a joint near Nalen, Stockholm 24
th May 2002
(Photo: Sung Hae Park)

The quality of sound on this first CD from the Ranch is excellent. It is no secret either – on the contrary quite obvious – that new technology has equipped the composer with formerly unheard of possibilities to realize his musical dreams, and the place he choose for working with the ideas for this CD doesn’t exactly downplay its technological supremacy; the studios at CIRM in Nice, France, where the music was mixed and edited during the period of 1993-98.

For me it was a bit surprising to se Riley ascend from the binary excellence of the hard drives of an electronic music outfit, which I how I normally would characterize CIRM in Nice, like IRCAM, or the GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales) in Paris, or Jean Schwarz’s studio Celia, and even the people around this project have an electroacoustic ring to their names, like, for example, Michel Redolfi, who has been an overseer of the work, but whom I know basically through his adventures at the GRM.

I’m more used to sensing Mr. Riley through wavy curtains of incense and sudden blinding reflections off of golden Buddha statues, but here he is, digitally waxed down, side by side with himself in a soft trajectory of binary double visions! Here’s to a man for all seasons! (Thank you, Mr. Stewart!)
However, since high-end technique of the audio can be used in any number of ways, it is no contradiction to see a basically intuitive and improvising artist like Terry Riley (even though he is a structured and hard working composer too!) grab on to the advantages of sound science, and since I’m fresh in from a few weeks’ work (basically a photo mission; a coverage in picture and writings) with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Kuerten and Cologne in Germany, at the famous Stockhausen Courses, I am well aware of the brilliance that may take shape at the interface of creative genius and high end technology! I’m in fact saturated with that insight!

In this year’s courses in Kuerten we learned much about sound scenes – Tonszenen – and in
Atlantis Nath Terry Riley inserts certain sounding scenes, certain concrete scenes of bustling street life of India, rendering this issue a startling sense of cow dust presence, with all the colors and fragrances of India clearly detected by anyone having ever traveled this sub-continent, which constantly vibrates with the truth of life at it’s peak, material and spiritual in one glance, the fragrances and the odors, the all-encompassing gaze and the soaring systems of though, in one, everlasting moment of the Now; a Now of All Times – and we need not really worry! The transmitters of electric currents of the brain and the humming of the cosmic radiation; two aspects of the oneness of it all, in a universe woven with a timeless web of non-local connections! All places are here; all times are now! Curved space is a meeting-place for noses and necks!

The initial track on
Atlantis Nath bears the ominous title Crucifixion Voices, constituting an amassment of voices, coming across somewhat like a Tibetan Om (Om Mani Padme Hum) from a group of ethereal high altitude monks, but all the voices are Terry Riley’s, at different pitches, in a soaring, dark and light forward force of human light through the ages; the loneliness of Homo Sapiens and their brethren the Neanderthals (living on in our minds and our folklore and archetypal memories as giants and goblins) under the stars in the millennia before enlightenment, feet treading cold, moist grass, dangers ever-present!

Terry Riley conducting a seminar
at Nalen, Stockholm 23
rd May 2002
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Track 2, Mosque, arises seamlessly out of track 1, opening an eastern street scene to our ears, incense and the smell of roasted nuts entering our nostrils…

Track 3 –
Derveshum Carnivalis – elbows it’s rhythmic force into view, completely taking over in a heavy, thumping, self-assured street-dancing exposure, including bells and rattles of a certain excitement in its world of structured rhythms and street-thug apparition. It’s a natural-born foot-tapper!

Wedding Song – track 4 – kicks in as another street scene, carefully and seamlessly out of the generous rhythmic patterns of Derveshum Carnivalis. A swaying, sensually dancing song out of a radio inside an Indian bazaar or shady lane brings up my own recollections of villages and towns of India in the early 1970s, when a friend of mine and I drove down there from Sweden in an old Ford Cortina! My experience of Indian atmospheres blows in my face like dust out of this piece!
A tilted field of reflective thoughts glide by diagonally in the sounding space of this street scene; a foreign property is introduced into the oriental tapestry of sound; a droning aspect of a synthesizer hovering around the listener, entering from behind and right, circling the consciousness like a hallucination, with a promise or a threat of something else, or perhaps just condensing the ever-present presence of the beyond and here-after, which no one is ignorant of in India, where death is simply a transient state of varying extensions.

Emerald Runner is a longer incident, in which Riley returns to his jazzman identity, playing the piano and singing, bringing up sceneries of smoky bars and night clubs of the Western hemisphere, though very soon resorting to his very own accent or dialect of this music, as presented earlier on the CD Songs For the Then Voices of the Two Prophets (hinting at the synthesizers utilized), displaying songs like Embroidery, Eastern Man and Chorale of the Blessed Day. Terry Riley offers a style of singing here on Emerald Runner, almost identical in timbre and light to the content of Ten Voices. This is done without as much as a blush, with an assurance of insertion that comes completely natural! The Steinway is allowed a rolling, thunderous presence of chordal bliss, and the sheer brilliance of the sound blows me away! Riley’s voice is charmingly insistent, with that hazy, glissandoing, smoky coating, which demands elegance and shining floors for the dancing couples of the ice-cream castle balls of celestial hitchhikers. The Emerald Runner even manages to make some be-bop gestures as Riley sings a duet with himself, or rather counterpoints himself in breathtaking blue notes that bend and stretch the elasticity of hearing into late-summer orchards of pavilion silences that brood on well guarded memories of long gone centuries of the gentle…

Gha Ten in Darbari
opens with a distant ball room piano recapturing a well-known tune, until the synthesizer makes the environment comfortable for some Rileyish Indian singing, but here comes one, two, three – many! – Terry Rileys out of the ether, descending on us like tight precipitation, completely surrounding us with the vibrant timbres of this pleasant voice, which mixes perfectly with the metal sheets of the synthesizer, providing a shiny, impenetrable defense, in which you sit comfortably like in a space ship with shields down!

Ascensión, again, is a longer, rambling piano tune by Riley. It is preceded by, as I recall, the first pause on this CD. The title indicates a rising motion. The tune begins in restful playfulness; a simple meditation at the piano; the comfortable introspections of a lover just having loved, a glass of liquor within easy reach and the assurance of continued love-making a little later, after a sip of fresh air on the porch or the balcony; a calmly happy man at his Steinway, female warmth in an adjacent room!
Inside the piece the content pianist enacts old time Western movies in a mimicry of silent movie piano playing of early 20th century movie theaters. He makes a sweep back through the decades and returns in vibrancy and style! He lets his fingers move freely across the keyboard while he thinks of his lady stretched out across the bed in the other room, and he recalls Bob Dylan’s words in
Something There Is About You from Planet Waves (1974):

Something there is about you that strikes a match in me
Is it the way your body moves or is it the way your hair blows free?
Or is it because you remind me of something that used to be
Somethin' that crossed over from another century?

Something there is about you that moves with style and grace
I was in a whirlwind, now I'm in some better place

The playing gets very lyrical.

Folke Rabe, Peter Schuback & Terry Riley
at a joint near Nalen, Stockholm
th May 2002
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Ascención Final Chord Rising is a short incident; a sound design by Luc Martinez, in a glissandi ever rising towards time indefinite, while dark, shimmering tam tams spread glittering forebodings. The piece eases out in an eavesdropping view into a holy land of bliss, simmering on a thread of grainy overtones.

Remember This is unusual in its inclusion of the Nice Opera String Quartet. If you hadn’t followed the ins and outs of Terry Riley’s musical path you might get quite surprised, but considering his quite prolific string quartet writing, this aspect of his music surely belongs here, with all the other stuff! The combination, though, of singing, synthesizer playing and the string quartet, is unusual, again illustrating my initial words of the characteristics of his earlier output in a new setting.

It begins with a chordal embrace, as the string quartet mournfully caresses you in a room full of flowers. The furniture is old and noble, in shining hardwood. Someone is dead, it seems, moving swiftly on to his or her next body vehicle… and the flowers fill the room with the fragrance of flowers, as Terry Riley sings the word Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, like was it a mantra to fend off ill spirits and demons in a moment of remembrance of someone who is worthy of being remembered for his best moments only.
The tune takes on an Indian atmosphere as Riley starts singing in this fashion about a minute before the end, and the chanting and spreading of incense is underlined by a heavier rhythm, which really shakes your loudspeakers. A very, very beautiful tune, and unusually serious too.

Only a Day arrives seamlessly on the fragility of glass, soon opening up in a serpentine melody in the synthesizer, combined with the fretless guitar of Frederic Lepée and Terry Riley’s meandering Indian vocals, spreading a soft cloth of silk for your worries, taking you by the hand, leading you into the loving care of good and tender thoughts, sunlight suddenly shining through gaps in the mountainous terrain, people like minute life forms on the slopes, all moving in patterns of hope through their lives.

Terry Riley delighted at his seminar
at Nalen, Stockholm 23
rd May 2002
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

Track 11 is Even Your Beloved Wife, which is a title I don’t know what to make of… Perhaps something in the vein of E Tu Brute, but I don’t know…
It starts after the second pause, and quite suddenly, with an uncommon hardness of tone and attitude. Riley sings and handles the MIDI apparatus. This swings and rolls, rocks and sways, in a somewhat medieval fashion. There’s some kind of weariness in here somewhere. As I stretch my legs in front of me I see visions of my youth, barefoot in the meadow, bluebells of August…

The Crucifixion of My Humble Self – a part of a Riley opera! – concludes this magnificent set of tunes. The text was written by Adolf Woelfli, which is remarkable in itself.
At you can read the following about Woelfli:

Woelfli was born in the alpine countryside near the Swiss capital of Bern in 1864, became an orphan and farmhand-for-hire while still a child, did a brief stint in the army, and allegedly attempted to molest young girls on three occasions. Those events led authorities to commit Woelfli to the Waldau Psychiatric Clinic near Bern in 1895, where he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and remained in residence until his death 35 years later.
During his early years, Woelfli suffered from hallucinations and behaved violently; both at that time and later. After he was transferred to a private cell, he made his drawings. At the Waldau, he also benefited from the attention of Dr. Walter Morgenthaler. This doctor's 1921 book,
Ein Geisteskranker als Kunstler (A Psychiatric Patient as Artist), took a pioneering look at Woelfli as a legitimate talent in his own right, not as a freak producer of a madman's novelties.

The music commences in dark, threatening gong or tam tam samplings. John Deaderick recites the Woelfli text, and Riley sings in garlands of Indian vocals, and it all pretty well re-enacts the possibly frightening delusions or insights of Adolf Woelfli. The voices rise up close and far, in background and foreground, like poisonous mushrooms in the forest underbrush, and the maddening tam tam coloring keeps up.
This is a very rare piece to come from Terry Riley, bordering on a dreamscape textsound composition or a nightmarish downdraft of a soul forlorn, a man gasping for air as the quicksand sucks him down. It is very unsettling, of course, and fascinating! A soaring tanpura circles like a swarm of bees.

Atlantis Nath is a surprising concept that certainly hits home. The project testifies to a new kind of Rileyish curiosity that makes future releases from the Ranch much in demand!

I know that several productions – i.e. CDs – lie ready for the printers at the Ranch, simply awaiting a more benign financial situation. Maybe we could arrange for a procedure of pre-ordering and pre-paying, to make these dormant productions viable?