Steve Reich Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective

Steve Reich can arguably be called one of the most influential and creative composers of the 20th century. This rather huge prop can also be attributed to the fact that he was conscious and open enough to his environment that he understood the ramifications of repetition and the effect of modern culture on sound. Anyone that has programmed, played or listened to a loop has, in many ways, to acknowledge the groundbreaking strides that Reich has made in channelling everything from gamelan to tapes into the mainstream. While others like Philip Glass and Terry Reilly have made significant contributions to the practice of minimalism, Reich stands as one of the one of the most beautifully funky originators of the genre. This accessibly priced five-CD set is a must-have for all who are lovers of the loop and wish to hear the original concept. In a way it’s kind of like discovering Muddy Waters through the Rolling Stones. There is the body/mind shift of "Drumming,” the tape loop experimentation of "Come Out,” the Kronos Quartet — driven ode to the rail on "Different Trains” to "Electric Counterpoint” featuring Pat Metheny managing to sound like himself while playing a composed piece. This last element of the musician’s function in Reich’s composition is the most telling as he has used some of the same players for decades. A tribute to Reich’s understanding of subtlety. (Nonesuch)