Plays Terry Riley Salome Dances for Peace
Have you ever had music in your belly? As opposed to a song in your head? I was craving some specific piece of music lately and I kept confusing the thoughts in my head with the feelings in my gut. So I naturally kept misinterpreting my craving and picking the wrong song. Then it hit me, around lunch time oddly enough, I was wanting a string quartet. There’s nothing like a string quartet around lunch, and what’s more I was wanting the Kronos Quartet. But the last piece of my musical sandwich, the meat in between if you will, was Terry Riley’s Salome Dances for Peace.
Even though Kronos Quartet Plays Terry Riley, Salome Dances for Peace was released on LP, a double LP from Elektra Nonesuch originally released in 1989, I own the shitty CD. Shitty because of tiny little liner notes, shitty because of its overly stupidly-engineered complex plastic fucking case. This one is even worse because its a two-CD package which requires multiple sets of hinges, trays and compartments like a tiny military installation for a tiny army of cockroaches. I imagine a post-nuclear world with cockroaches living happily ever after in condominiums by the sea made entirely of CD jewel cases. Or to put it another way, you know your packaging design is overly designed and shitty when a cardboard sleeve kicks your designs ass. Whoever designed the CD ‘jewel’ case was not very familiar with elegant or sensual or simple.
Thankfully, the music more than makes up for the lame-ass overly complex world of plastic packaging design (not to mention the abomination that was its protective in-store outer-security case which required a specially made machine to remove it). This music is so moving it even transcends the overly complex and what-the-fuck-were-they-thinking world of the CD. Whoever designed the CD was not very familiar with elegant or sensual or simple.
I love the story of Salome. Don’t you? “Going out of my head over you, out of my head over you, out of my head day and night, night and day and night wrong or right.” A scene acted out every day and night wrong or right all around the world from bedrooms to brothels to strip bars to strip malls and all the places in between. “And I think I’m going out of my head. Yes I think I’m going out of my head.”
Terry Riley writes Salome a new chapter – “Now, 2000 years after Salome’s famous dance, peace has been stolen from the Earth by dark forces, and Salome is chosen to win it back. In Anthem of the Great Spirit, the first part of Salome Dances for Peace, Salome is summoned to the Great Spirit, who sees in her the embodiment of the feminine force.” Salome spends the rest of her time traveling the world and underworld spreading and enforcing the word of peace by sometimes luring with her historic piece of ass (crude I know but that’s what we’re talking about – those seven veils didn’t cover her beautiful personality) and the music travels with her – stylistically, emotionally and emotively in a whirlwind of genres, styles, mores, moods and more for 100 god-damned minutes. Eastern, Western, Middle Eastern, hot, cold, blue, bluesy, jazzy, minimal, romantic, dissonant, melodic, ceremonial, folk and more all woven into a single magic carpet ride.
Kronos Quartet Plays Terry Riley Salome Dances for Peace is breathtaking in its scope and seamless diversity. I’d call it a moving masterpiece of movement. A time bomb for peace.
Here’s some of what Terry Riley had to say about the Kronos Quartet – “Theirs is a gift to plumb the mysteries of those little black notes lying dormant on the page that long for a release into the Tantric play of the universal sound. A gift of illusion that lets us hear the seamless transformation of one musical fabric into another. A gift of patience that allows the rapture to build on ever increasing levels and the gift for expression with quiet conviction that this is the most natural, this is “the way it should go.” And most important, the gift that allows four joyous souls to fly as one into uncharted lands.”