This is part of the interview conducted at Shri Moonshine Ranch in October 1992 by Gamall Awad and Ammon Haggerty for Rhythmos Magazine.
We played some popular "ambient techno" tracks at the time for Terry and captured his thoughts.
"Mercy" by Moby
Terry Riley: This sounds a little bit like some combination of new age music and dance music. Everything done very simply that same pulsing "E" all the way through. For my taste, that wouldn't carry me very far into myself, although I find it pleasant to listen to, but musically not challenging enough. It's like a painting that's done very beautifully but doesn't have too much depth.
"The Passage" by Juan Atkins (Model 500)
Terry Riley: I hear a point of view on the first tune that maybe is shared. There's not a lot of highs, they're both bass orientated which would bear out your idea that this is for people to chill out to. What I find peculiar in these first two tracks is the organ music in the background—it's very nostalgic. I guess nostalgia is a big part of this. But it might be recent nostalgia. I mean a sample is a nostalgia isn't it? It's something you know and you like. I think nostalgia is an important element of music. This gets interesting as it melts down—the last one melted down too. That part to me is interesting, but I think it would be more interesting if it wasn't used just for an ending, but used to take people down to there and then begin again.
"Fill No 3" by Speedy J
Terry Riley: Now this is getting a little edge to it. I like that there are different disparate elements going on at the same time that are all related. It's interesting what's happening to music, moving toward the millennium, we are getting ready to move as a whole culture—we're becoming different kinds of human beings than those of the past, and the music reflects that.
"The Clan" by I.A.O. (aka Black Dog)
Terry Riley: The drummer sounds live. It doesn't sound drum machine-y—it's lighter. The time has a looser feeling than a drum machine to my ear not so uptight. This is a good band, I'd like to hear more.
"Soufie" by Banco De Gaia
Terry Riley: This is psychedelic. It reminds me in a way of some of the things the Beatles did without their pop music in it, strip away all of their tunes and put the background in. This is very good. I'm learning something here. Drums are very grounding—they're the thing that ground us to the earth, take away the drums and you start floating up into space, its a simple idea but I always find it's true.
Oct 9, 1992