Terry Riley: Sun Rings by Kronos Quartet

'Sun Rings' is a piece by Terry Riley which was performed by Kronos Quartet and.... space? On their travels Voyagers 1 and 2 record a number of unearthly (literally) sounds, which inspired Riley to compose this piece for strings and a choir. The message driving it is one of unity, captured by the track title 'One Earth, One People, One Love'.

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Terry Riley: Sun Rings by Kronos Quartet
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8/10 Jamie 29 August 2019

Space sounds. Oh, this is right up my alley! Space sounds, yes! However, these sounds from space are those beamed back to us by those beautiful explorers at NASA -- AND, THEN -- re-composed and re-interpreted by none other than those famed minimalist sound explorers, Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet. Those original sounds of space ephemera, by the way, were of course carried on signals relayed back to Earth by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes. NASA henceforth presented a compelling argument and won the bid for a prime Terry Riley commission. These compositions, laid down in 2002, were the result and this sonic artifact is the first to be made available to the general person. It’s a bit of magic.

Actual sounds from space introduce the album -- can I call 'Sun Rings' a symphonic suite, or does that sound a bit poncey? Anyway, not to be too pretentious about it (As if! Right?) -- there are some real moments of wondrousness to be enjoyed here. The quartet bow and scrape about on their stringed instruments; violin, viola and cello sound well Kronos. There are also nice little electronic doodlings: meditations speaking to nature’s ability, propensity and tendency to provide us with wonderful music. Music which Riley and Kronos have augmented here, to lustrous effect. This being Terry, it is of course all about: “One Earth, One People, One Love.” Californian sentiments, nevertheless from the heart and all boosted by the stunning voices of San Francisco-based Volti Ensemble.

Jamie's caveat: listen to this and you may too soon be reduced to tears. Remember, in S P A C E no-one can hear your cynical heart melt.



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