Friday, February 8, 2008

Steve Reich, EARLY WORKS

Elektra/Nonesuch, 1987; available

5 tracks, 56:26

First off, this is essential. Short of the amazing 10-CD WORKS boxset, this is the Reich everyone needs. Consisting of four pieces (one of which is divided in two parts), all composed between 1965 and 1972, this compilation showcases even amounts of minimalism and musique concrete. "Come Out" and "It's Gonna Rain" parts one and two fall into the latter category. In "Come Out", a victim of police brutality's account of his mistreatment becomes a nightmarish mass of loops, words melting into pure sound. "It's Gonna Rain" does similar things to the apocalyptic ranting of a preacher. The effect is extremely fascinating and oppressive in equal amounts. On the opposite extreme, "Piano Phase" features a gorgeous piano duet, which goes in and out of phase as the piece unfolds over twenty minutes. This is pure proto-ambient, absolutely beautiful yet requiring no listening to be felt. "Clapping Music" is exactly that. The phasing in this case comes from the claps falling out of synch. It's definitely the weakest composition on here, but it is easily forgivable surrounded by the other masterpieces. For the roots of minimalism and its ties to musique concrete and early electronic music, look no further than this disc.

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