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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 12 January 2009
This is another of those albums that I've been listening to for over 30 years - quite a scary thought. It is 'early electronica' I suppose but, even given it's relatively simple technology, it still sounds fresh, still has an impact and a meaning.

'Rainbow in Curved Air' starts with a repetitive little Hammond organ riff (and that Hammond organ sound is so rich and glorious), slowly slipping into tape loops, but then a manic keyboard comes over the top, almost jamming over the insistent riff underneath. Slowly the layers build up, the complexity slipping in an almost Steve Reichian way. Listening to it on headphones - and, yes, you do listen to it: it's not ambient - it always feels to me like a direct brain massage, fingers gently kneading my grey stuff, and it's beautiful. Somehow, it's quite insistent, but only apparently repetitive - there is so much going on.

Then, 'Popply Nogood and the Phantom Band': pretty much in the same vein, but using tape loops far more obviously, as what sounds like soprano saxophones slip and slide over each other, with an underlying organ drone. Slowly, the drone builds as the saxophone loops suddenly jump in pitch, sounds like he just speeded up the tape loops (almost reminiscent of that notorious but classic NEU! album, where they just played the same track at different speeds, having run out of money to record anything else). Then the organ comes right to the front, and hits the floor in pitch, the saxs fading out, to come back in building up the loops again. Technically, it almost sounds like 'No Pussyfooting' only several years earlier.

If you listen out for it, you can hear parts of this album in the first series of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - so it's not just influenced the music scene. Terry Riley was certainly an early proponent of minimalist or process music - another famous piece is 'In C', specifically designed/written for not very good musicians, a direct revolt against the obsessive complexity of Stockhausen et al.

Friend of mine told me that he saw Terry Riley in concert once; when he left the stage, he left the tape machines running, and Soft Machine came on, their set slowly emerging from Terry Riley's. Maybe apocryphal, but a nice touch.

I think maybe those tape loops are still running...
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on 5 April 2005
I first heard "Rainbow" in a radiocast around 1973. Second time was 6 years later, at school. And third time was in 1987, also in a radiocast. Now I have bought the CD.
The morale of this small story is that the music is something that is not heard often, but that it for some shapes the future. It was the first electronic piece that I know that I have heard (excluding "popcorn") and it was a direct inspirator for listening in to some even more advanced pieces of music.
I call the music ambient - and that is true, as the music is flowing and intonating with a form but without a solid theme. "Rainbow" is not trance music, but more demanding.
I also call the music daring, referring to the point in time where it arrived. And then again - it was all so psykodelic then. Perhaps it was daring for us, not wanting to listen exclusively to Manfred Mann or Beatles. Well...
The music is classical electronica. It should be a must-listen.
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on 19 May 2016
Not sure how I've not encountered Terry Riley until just now - I was brought up on electronica - but *so* glad to have found. Use the Amazon sampler before buying or, better still go visit u tube; you'll either love it or hate xxx
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on 11 February 2015
This album has travelled with me for 45 years since I first heard it back when it was a pacesetter for music to come. Rainbow is lying in a field on a sunny day watching the fluffy white clouds skid by. Poppy is the austere landscape of subtopian doom. Totally brilliant.
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on 6 May 2014
I have been listening to music for 40 years and had never heard of this before. Once I heard it I was amazed at how many sounds from the 70's and 90's seem to be derivatives of this. Very innovative for i's time and well worth a listen.
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on 4 March 2014
I loved listening to this in the 70's - it was so different and mesmerising, and a nice contrast to the progressive rock I mostly listened to back then.
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on 26 April 2012
I used to have this album on vinyl in the seventies. Very glad to see it on Amazon on CD and it sounds just as good to me. If you like jazzy,ambient, rocky sort of music, you'll love this.
On a practical note,(no pun intended!!) it took a few more days to get here than I'd thought it would but as it came from the U.S. it wasn't too bad. Worth waiting for.
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on 9 August 2011
Heard this many many years ago before electronic music was really developed. Way ahead of its time and the basis for much of the electronic music that has followed. Tubular bells with a groundbreaking twist.
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on 18 June 2014
I've heard snippets from this CD - or Album, as it was originally - over the years, but never managed to track down (no pun intended) the original work.
My only regret in buying this CD, is that I should have bought the Rainbow in Curved Air Album many years before I did.
Turn off the lights. Light some incense. And then drift away on a time journey to back when this piece first was heard.
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on 25 November 2013
I guess if your interested in this piece of music you probably know about terry Riley the begins of American minimalist music it has Steve reich playing on it
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