The Last Camel In Paris is yet another re-release of Terry Riley work on the Elision Fields label. This work was taken from a live recording at the Theatre Edouard VII in Paris from November 10th, 1978, and finds Riley playing a solo organ that has been modified to handle four channels - two live and two delayed. The resulting effect varies between quiet spectral twinklings and dense, almost disorienting moments that turns the one-man performance into something altogether different than one might expect.
Although recorded live, the sound quality of the release is quite good, with only a bit of external noise apparent during the quieter opening moments. Spread out over ten different tracks, The Last Camel In Paris evolves slowly, starting out with longer, droning chords (which are then dusted with speckles of the delayed notes) that are almost hymn-like. As it evolves, Riley weaves in melodies of Eastern influence, and the piece starts coiling and releasing with some very exciting moments as the organ shifts in very slight ways tonally, moving from more organic and rich to a sound that's almost piercing at times.
At roughly the two-thirds mark of the release, the melodic clusters get even more dense and the delayed patterns fall in just slightly out-of-sync, making for a section that sounds like one of Bach's organ works on some sort of futuristic psychedelic bender. The comedown (which takes place during the eighth section) is even better, as lightning-fast progressions cascade down from the more heavy section that preceded them. Riley's catalogue is so huge at this point that it's a bit hard to know where to place The Last Camel In Paris in terms of his output. It's a solid minimal recording with some seriously stunning moments, but it's probably not the best place to start in terms of his catalogue. He's worked similar territory a bit more successfully on recordings like Rainbow In Curved Air, but in terms of one-man pieces it's certainly very solid. If church organs across the world played this type of music, they'd have to serve peyote at communion.