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October 23, 2019

The reviews are in for SUN RINGS

On August 30, Nonesuch Records released Terry RIley’s Sun Rings, performed by Kronos with the Volti vocal ensemble, and the reviews are now pouring in:

“Few composer-quartet collaborations measure up to the remarkable relationship formed between Terry Riley and the Kronos Quartet, a creative partnership that has spanned almost 40 years… Riley’s deep absorption in and understanding of musical cultures and traditions lends a certain universality to his musical language that resonates powerfully when the world is viewed as a small round object thousands of miles away… Cosmic stuff.” – Gramophone

“Collaborations between legendary minimalist composer Terry Riley and venerated string ensemble Kronos Quartet go back decades… Each [resulting piece] has served to stretch the boundaries of both minimalism and chamber music, usually in the service of introducing audiences to exotic forms of music from different parts of the world… With Riley’s SUN RINGS compositions and the sounds gathered by [physicist Don] Gurnett and NASA, we’re all able to picture ourselves side-by-side with the music of the world beyond our own.” – PopMatters

“SUN RINGS takes us on an acoustic adventure whose sonic and spiritual dimensions embody Riley’s untempered wonder at creation… At a time in history when things are looking dire on so many fronts, SUN RINGS’ unfettered optimism and faith in the essential goodness of humankind is a breath of intergalactic fresh air…. Much of the music on SUN RINGS defies verbal explication. Riley’s genius for creating a unified whole out of seemingly disparate parts is abetted by Kronos’ playing.” – Stereophile Magazine

Sun Rings Press Quote Slideshow

“RIley steers clear of trippy vistas and cosmic cliches. He takes care to avoid reduction of those samples to the status of exotic sound effects. Introduced without melodrama, they are placed in a kind of unfolding dialogue with Kronos, who adapt accordingly. [Riley] makes informed use of their versatility. The ten movements of SUN RINGS invite quiet reflection and active response.” – The Wire

“The Kronos Quartet’s new recording employs ‘space sounds’ recorded by Nasa over the years, and these percussive clicks, drones and ghostly screeches are artfully integrated into the string arrangements. Where some composers tend to get doomy and dystopian when faced with such subject matter, Riley is appealingly childlike and positive, and his strident minimalism is complemented by the utopian harmonies of the Volti choir.” – The Guardian (John Lewis)

“It’s musically very diverse; eccentric and charming, typical Riley.” – The Guardian (Andrew Clements)

“Riley describes the ten [movements] as ‘spacescapes:’ each conceived as a kind of musical atmosphere in which the strings would interplay with space recordings – space, as in outer space. Think John Coltrane and Kenny Burrell except with a string quartet and NASA… Kronos and Riley deliver on the promise of interplay repeatedly over the course of the album’s 80 minutes. Harrington, along with violinist John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Sunny Yang (cello) deliver an inspired performance… To say you’ve probably never heard anything like this is to state the obvious.” – Exclaim!

“[SUN RINGS] matches its central cosmological theme with music that is intimate and grand by turns, all tied together with the natural sounds of outer space. An ode to mankind’s urge to explore, and a prayer for peaceful cooperation here on planet Earth.” – All About Jazz

“The visual impact of what was intended as a multimedia experience is, of course, lost on CD, but it still makes for a powerful listen. Riley gives Kronos (and the Volti singers) a hefty workout, but interestingly avoids anything that might be mistaken for spacey, hippy or kosmische effects. Instead, SUN RINGS comes over as a quietly meditative consideration of our place on the third rock from the sun… It’s unquestionably beautiful.” – The Tablet

“SUN RINGS is full of creative leaps that only Riley would make and it is perfectly acceptable to put all the astrophysics to the side and just enjoy a perfectly realized and transporting work of music by one of our finest composers.” – AnEarful

“It all comes together rather beautifully… The space created by the music allows the sounds of the solar system to take their place within these compositions… Patterns and beauty and understanding are what links the macro of the universe to the micro of our own lives, and everyone involved in this project plays their part in bringing both of these apparently disparate concepts together so that the result is a singular idea that gives us both a sense of where we are just as much as reminding us that we are part of something so much bigger, even if that isn’t always a happy thought. Just as with Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ essay, SUN RINGS is a champion of belonging, and is best experienced on a cloudless night spent with just you, this and all the stars in the universe.” – Echoes And Dust


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