I accidentally stumbled upon a tribute gig to Steve Reich at The Barbican, when I first moved to London. I’d never listened to Classical music, never seen an orchestra live, and never even heard of this guy; but figured I’d try something new. What followed was one of the Top 5 moments that defined me as a musician.
I’m pretty unreactionary day-to-day, but with no exaggeration, the second that orchestra started, my mouth was open with an uncontrollable glee of happiness & awe that hasn’t been matched since. I was like a kid meeting his football idol, it was next level; and I’ve been incorporating classical arrangements in my music ever since.
I’ve studied his work a lot, his use of phasing I find so engaging, how the brain tries to follow each pattern and you can never really win. (Phasing is basically using looped repeated patterns with different time signatures to each one, so they will start on different beats when the loop beings again. Check out this great visualisation to get an idea).
He’s regarded as the King of Minimalist Classical Music for a reason, his body of work is (for me), some of the most compelling in musical history. He’s been a huge influence for Jonny Greenwood (check out his Electric Counterpoint cover, and also Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes’), and therefore me. On my bucket list was to one day see ‘Music For 18 Musicians’ played live, and in 2014 I did. To watch a 55min song and be on the edge of your seat throughout, is a pretty ridiculous achievement. Here it is with Steve on piano himself.