Bow down to the master minimalist, 80 years young today.
Bow down to the master minimalist, 80 years young today.

It's innovative minimalist composer Terry Riley's 80th birthday today. While it is optimal to celebrate this American legend's music every day, you should probably devote more time than usual to it on this auspicious occasion. When the world's bullshit becomes too unbearable, I often reach for a record or CD by Mr. Riley to calm my frazzled nerves, elevate my mind, and inflate my soul. His catalog abounds with desert-island discs that are essential to a (relatively) peaceful and spiritual life.

In my pantheon of master musicians, Riley occupies the highest echelon, along with Miles Davis, Boredoms' Yamantaka Eye, Alice Coltrane, Wolfgang Dauner, and the guys who wrote the Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup."

So with that in mind, check out five Terry Riley works—amongst the dozens that exist—to maximize your appreciation of his ability to extract beauty from utmost minimalist materials. (I'm excluding In C, because you already know all about that 1964 masterpiece. Riley conducted it outside of the Seattle Art Museum in 2013.)

From the 1980 album, Shri Camel:

From the rare 1972 LP Persian Surgery Dervishes, which really needs to be reissued:

From a collaboration with the great world-jazz trumpeter Don Cherry that ended up on an unofficial 2013 LP titled Live Köln 1975:

From the 1971 collaboration with ex-Velvet Underground member John Cale, Church of Anthrax:

From 1969's A Rainbow in Curved Air: