Marking the occasion of Steve Reich’s 80th birthday (hup, big man!), The ECM Recordings compiles three CDs of the venerable minimalist composer’s major works, which were consecutively released in 1978, 1980 and 1982, and continue to influence and inspire myriad forms of modern music.
Named “our greatest living composer” (The New York Times), “America’s greatest living composer” (The Village Voice), and “…the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker), Reich’s ardent, incisive work since the ’60s has been instrumental in consolidating the structures of numerous strands of far flung music, from west African tribal drumming to Indonesian gamelan with Hebrew cantillation (chanting) and Western Classical modes, in an unprecedented manner that has opened whole new worlds of possibility for any composer or musician working in his wake.
Reich’s use of phasing repetition could be said to predate and inform many of the genres and styles that we hold dearest today - from 4th world ambient to post rock and techno - and does so in way that rings true with his heritage: seeking to acknowledge commonalities between all things, rather than the differences; creating a new musical vocabulary which moved beyond the worldwide atrocities of the early 20th century, therefore placing him among the most astute, important, groundbreaking composers of his generation.
The ECM Recordings presents five prime examples of Reich’s pioneering work; covering perhaps his most expansive, best known piece, the breathtaking Music For 18 Musicians (1978) on the first disc; followed by the perpetual lift of Music For A Large Ensemble, the spiralling string helixes of Violin Phase and the brilliant light of Octet (1980) on the second disc; and the hypnotic Hebrew incantations of Tehillim (1982) in the third disc.
There is little doubt that this is some of the most amazing music in existence. If you haven’t experienced these pieces in full fidelity already, this is the perfect opportunity to change your life.