Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles

The collaboration between Cale and Terry Riley, on the other hand, was a short and apparently unhappy one. (Riley's statement on the album: "Yes! Church of Anthrax! [half-mirthful, half-exasperated laughter]"). It's not a fruitless collaboration, though - even if Riley felt that Cale commandeered the sessions, their respective styles did merge and more or less complement each other.

"The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles." Of all Cale's discarded pretentious high-art tics I miss the bizarre titles the most. The title isn't entirely inappropriate for this highly repetitious and recursive piano and sax voyage. Cale bangs away at a few chords on the piano (much faster than usual for his "classical" incarnation!), Riley plays undulating streams of sax akin (so they say) to A Rainbow in Curved Air. There are some special effects with stereo - sax flowing from left to right, echoes of the right sax in the left channel, etc.

There's a moment almost three minutes in which they change key, and it sounds like they've turned the boat out to sea. Similar picturesque developments keep the piece interesting almost all the way to the end, but the track outstays its welcome near the five-minute mark when the stereo panning of saxes gets a little overheated and the piano work lingers too long in the same vein. The ending is beautiful, though.

In all, it's a striking listen but not the most effective thing on the album. There's potential here that just wasn't realized.

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