STEVE REICH STILL HAS A PULSE

Minimalist composer Steve Reich turned 82 during 2018. (Interestingly, his musical peers Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Philip Glass all became octogenarians in the last couple of years too).

So Reich has been pursuing his singular exploration of repetition and phase for a lifetime. 

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Pulse/Quartet was released this year on the Nonesuch label. It is an album of two compositions: the fourteen minute “Pulse” and three movement suite “Quartet” (18 minutes).

The first side has a lovely melody weaving through and rising above the layered arrangement, it poignantly evokes the opening of Mike Oldfield’s Incantations (1978); slightly disconcerting—eerie even—but certainly not unpleasant. It is a lovely piece, almost too pretty to be taken seriously for some commentators. I find it uplifting.

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“Quartet” is equally accessible, sandwiching a slow middle section between two energetic movements. The instrumentation of two pianos and two vibraphones give a light, effervescent feel as tempos shift and tonalities stutter. The slow section evokes nothing so much as Chick Corea and Gary Burton sharing a transcendent dream.

An accessible entry point into the world of minimalism for the newcomer, or an unchallenging but enjoyable addition to the aficionado’s Reich collection.

Steve Reich – Pulse / Quartet [Nonesuch 2018]

“Pulse” – International Contemporary Ensemble / “Quartet” – Colin Currie Group

January is about reflecting on a selection of Vinyl Connection’s acquisitions during the preceding year. Some are 2018 releases, others are re-issues that appeared during the past 12-month, others are simply albums that caught my ear. Oh, and there will be a part two of the 1969 archive post.

13 comments

  1. I enjoy Music For 18 Musicians, but don’t know anything else. Recommendations?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This and “Different Trains” (Kronos Quartet) are worth checking out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope to still be writing & writing about music when I’m an octagenarian!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice one. My son is a massive Steve Reich fan and has been playing Different Trains all Christmas.

    I was looking at this one at the weekend .. tempted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YouTubed ‘Pulse’ as I headed out for the first job of the day. Filled the 14 minute 22 second drive perfectly. But you warned it would be eerie.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Enjoyed Quartet.
      BTW: Drove self to TOTAL confusion trying to identity the source of a riff (by Coltrane?) that played peek-a-boo in my head after I listened to Pulse.
      And so another phantom riff slips away.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Isn’t that odd. It evoked a theme from Mike Oldfield’s Incantations for me.

        Like

  5. One of those ‘I know the name, but not familiar with the music’ feelings when seeing this one. I don’t know if uplifting is a feeling I associate with much of the music I listen to, so I’m maybe reluctant to be, eh, uplifted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guess you could stream it and see, J? If you levitate, then it’s working I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, you know me, Bruce… I might say “I don’t know about that”, but there’s always a good chance that I’ll jump in and listen.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You are the keeper of this flame. Good. I’m being drawn to the doc ‘Thin Blue Line’. I think it’s Glass’s soundtrack that’s doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s mesmeric music, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

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