Different Trains / Electric Counterpoint

Different Trains / Electric Counterpoint

While making music out of recorded speech samples was not a new idea in Steve Reich’s music, the Kronos Quartet’s release of Different Trains in 1989 gripped listeners with unprecedented potency. The work’s subject matter partly explains its impact—the voice recordings Reich uses recall both train journeys across America made in his childhood, and those made by Jewish prisoners to the death camps of the Holocaust. Howling train whistles haunt the textured soundscape woven by four string quartets (three of them pre-recorded), as the excitement of boyhood discovery morphs into unimaginable horror. Other recordings have been made of Different Trains since, but the Kronos version remains seminal. A luminous rendition of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint with guitarist Pat Metheny also features on this album, and enjoys a similarly iconic status.

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