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John Cale & Terry Riley: Church Of Anthrax

Album Review

Mini-masterpiece from the Chas ‘n’ Dave of the avant-garde.

A full feature on minimalist auteur Terry Riley is long overdue in this esteemed digest, and as a prompt here’s a look back at his 1970 collision/collusion with Velvet Underground Taffmeister, John Cale.

A fractious exercise in Cale extracting the funk from Riley’s circular synth/sax drones – and succeeding – finds Miles Davis, Can and Pierre Henry in the mix of the title track’s skewed groove, and on the piano-driven The Hall Of Mirrors In The Palace Of Versailles. On what was side two, The Soul Of Patrick Lee clears the static with some sweet folk-pop much more in line with Cale’s solo debut Vintage Violence. Ides Of March then clatters into earshot like a Vince Guaraldi Peanuts warm-up. Still plumbing a Blue Note depth but with an almost Chas ‘n’ Dave jauntiness that tickles the funnybone Les Dawson could reach, the last furrow is The Protégé, a rockier, three-minute reprise of Ides…, but with equal hypnotic prowess. Unlike its foreboding title, Church Of Anthrax brought colours from Riley’s Rainbow and sunshine from the Underground. They fell out over Cale’s painstaking mixing regime, but this survives as a one-off mini masterpiece

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