09 August 2009

Steve Reich - 1974 - Four Organs/Phase Patterns

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Either you like Steve Reich or you don't like music. There, I said it. Granted, I'm not really choosing his best work to make that assertion (for that head for "Music for 18 Musician" or "Electric Counterpoint" off the top of my head), but this is still damn fine stuff. At this point Reich was climbing out of his proto-sampling, pure phase music shell, and starting to make streamlined music with a melodic core. This is definitely a 'transition' work, but the oceans of sound waiting here are worth wading in. Jeez, I hope no one reads that last sentence out loud.

The first piece here is "Four Organs," wherein the four organ players each stick with one note at various lengths while a maracas player drones on. Apparently Philip Glass is one of these organ players, although a piece like this isn't a particularly good showcase for one's musical personality. This is more for sending your mind to Valhalla. "Phase Patterns" is definitely the more intimidating piece here. We get an organ phrase played at slightly different speeds so that in falls in and out of synch. Some bits are wildly beautiful, while others come across as mismatched hell. This one is for brainwashing yourself.

I'll admit that the first half of this gets played on my stereo far more than the second. These pieces do manage to take pure music theory and make something often visceral and always impressive out of it. Reich would later figure out how to combine his experiments into amazing, full-blooded works, but these building blocks are still worth your attention.

Buy Me:
Actually, this doesn't include either of the pieces reviewed here, but it's an awful lot of Reich bang for your Steve buck.
Steve Reich - Phases


Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

great blog great albums.

Bo Leth said...

Nothing like a good cup of coffee and some Reich to start up your day. This blogg has my complete attention.

Unknown said...

Very nice album!