California composer Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic "In C" in 1964. This seminal work provided a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. Its impact was to change the course of 20th Century music and its influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams and in the music of rock groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, Curved Air and many others. Riley's hypnotic, multi-layered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated eastern flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the New Age movement that was to appear a decade or so later.
Like many musicians who came of age in the mid-sixties, Paul Marotta found listening to Terry Riley's "In C" a revelatory experience. Says Marotta: "From the first time I heard it I imagined 'In C' as played by a rock band. I just didn't know of any bands with the mindset to pull it off. At the time, most extended rock instrumentals tended to fall into one of a few very limited categories. Yet rock and roll is not simply a music defined by certain chord progressions, rhythms, or guitar licks. 'In C,' with its dancing rhythms and subversive simplicity, is the embodiment of the rock and roll aesthetic."
Paul Marotta started the Styrenes in 1975 in Cleveland to form a band that would combine the energy and excitement of hard, amplified rock with the musical sophistication of a chamber group or jazz ensemble. Marotta and the Styrenes produced recordings that feature an idiosyncratic blend of punk and prog rock, beatnik wordplay, and various jazz and classical instrumental voicings. One day, after convincing his bandmates that they wouldn't perpetrate a sacrilege by playing Riley's classic, the Styrenes found themselves off and rehearsing and making the piece their own. For the recording they had an almost unlimited number of digital tracks at their disposal and finally turned into a virtual 20-piece rock group. When this cult band dug their teeth into Riley's cult piece, an instant classic turned up. This is Riley's legendary composition like you never heard it before - but like you probably always longed to hear it.