5 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though Steve Reich's trailblazing minimalist compositions have had a huge impact on everything from rock to electronica, Reich didn't really reach an audience beyond the avant-garde cognoscenti until the '70s. The pieces collected here from his early career—mostly from the '60s—eventually became influential, but they remained a kind of buried treasure for years. As with most great minimalism, the simplicity of these compositions is simultaneously disarming and devastating. "Come Out" manipulates a tape of the voice of a young man caught up in the Harlem Riot of 1964, looping a single phrase into aural abstraction. "It's Gonna Rain" achieves a similar effect, with the voice of a Pentecostal preacher delivering an apocalyptic sermon. "Piano Phase" takes a more conventionally "musical" performance approach to the same idea; two pianists start playing in unison but gradually grow further and further apart to create a dazzling tapestry of ostinato lines. "Clapping" is ostensibly the simplest of all, applying the basic concept behind "Piano Phase" to two pairs of human hands coming together and drifting apart.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though Steve Reich's trailblazing minimalist compositions have had a huge impact on everything from rock to electronica, Reich didn't really reach an audience beyond the avant-garde cognoscenti until the '70s. The pieces collected here from his early career—mostly from the '60s—eventually became influential, but they remained a kind of buried treasure for years. As with most great minimalism, the simplicity of these compositions is simultaneously disarming and devastating. "Come Out" manipulates a tape of the voice of a young man caught up in the Harlem Riot of 1964, looping a single phrase into aural abstraction. "It's Gonna Rain" achieves a similar effect, with the voice of a Pentecostal preacher delivering an apocalyptic sermon. "Piano Phase" takes a more conventionally "musical" performance approach to the same idea; two pianists start playing in unison but gradually grow further and further apart to create a dazzling tapestry of ostinato lines. "Clapping" is ostensibly the simplest of all, applying the basic concept behind "Piano Phase" to two pairs of human hands coming together and drifting apart.

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