Steve Reich – Drumming

Steve Reich may be most well known for his groundbreaking juggernaut Music For 18 Musicians; it’s truly unfortunate when most listeners don’t reach beyond that obvious landmark.  Written nearly a decade prior, this piece is one of the most unified, thorough explorations of a concept in the renowned composer’s towering oeuvre.

Drumming is an unequivocal masterpiece of singularly blinding focus.  The title and cover art alone convey more about this landmark than any copious wordplay could aspire toward.  It’s equivalent to Reich’s artistic kernel, a core sample taken from the root of his genius.  The ideas contained herein were expanded and mutated into everything composed in the intervening years.  This is the skeleton, the blueprint, the foundation.

Of course, it’s also a hypnotic masterpiece, a fully realized evocation of everything interesting about modern minimalism.  The drum patterns evolve so quickly and naturally that when layers begin dissipating near the final movement in a slow decrescendo of complexity, the feeling is akin to being woken gently out of a deep slumber:  peeling back comfortingly warm layers of blankets until the cool air sparks movement and consciousness.  Emerging upon the final moments, the most immediate, compelling notion is to hit snooze and resume the dream, from the beginning.  Drumming is a state one leaves reluctantly and with hesitation.

Thankfully, we need not wait until twilight to re-experience this particular dream.

[various releases exist, though check amazon for the version I’ve described, or cd universe where it’s a bit cheaper]

Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians

Steve Reich is possibly my favorite living composer.  His strain of mimimalism has coursed its way through several branches of the tree of modern music.  These ideas have proved to be the backbone for a plethora of genres and soundscapes we enjoy today.

steve_reich

His music feels like the core of something – the central axis of entire galaxies of sound.  Anyone hoping for a solid grounding in modern music needs to get closer.  Reich is scriptural-level essential.  His tones are so identifiable that once you’re familiar, you’ll start to notice the signature embedded in everything.

I’m hoping to avoid giving the impression that listening to Reich is akin to homework, so here’s the real score:

This is some of the trippiest, most hypnotic, enveloping and overwhelming music I’ve laid ears on. The style may be minimalism, but it only feels that way if your volume is turned improperly low.

Here is a first taste of Reich: The original Music For 18 Musicians on ECM records.

reich18musicians

While not necessarily the man’s best composition, Music For 18 Musicians is a wonderful introduction to the unique harmonic building blocks with which Reich constructs his work.  Warm oscillations breed an inviting serenity in the first moments, and the listener is quickly whisked down a gently cascading river of sublimity.  Based around an ABCDCBA structure, each section melodically deconstructs a given chord and rebuilds it;  every bit is cyclical, and the whole piece winds into itself at the end.  Perfect symmetry.  It sounds simple, and it is.  Nothing has ever been so divine.

[grab this original ECM recording from amazon – there are several other recordings of this work which I will be covering in the future]

Boris – Flood

Boris Flood

Boris. Often mistakenly considered simply a doom/stoner/sludge outfit, the Japanese band has managed to subtly weave in varying textures throughout their discography. On this particular record, they keep things on a minimal page and emerge with their most powerful, transformative work in the process.

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