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City Life
January 2, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Steve Reich's CITY LIFE: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
posted by wittgenstein (36 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for the post. Love that shot of a bored TV cameraman early in part 1. What a drag this has to be split up.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:37 AM on January 2, 2008


Thank you!
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:41 AM on January 2, 2008


I know Steve Reich is a well-known composer, but I haven't heard nor sought out much of his stuff. He reminds me of Philip Glass. Thanks for the sounds!

(Maybe the cameraman should spit out his gum! Though there is something about doing camerawork at a stage show [among other places] that diverts me away from the content of what I'm shooting, no matter how interesting.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:59 AM on January 2, 2008


I can't watch YouTube at work. Does this actually have anything to do with urban life, or is that just a catchy title?
posted by desjardins at 9:02 AM on January 2, 2008


He reminds me of Philip Glass.

Reich and Glass are the 2 biggest names in what is referred to as Minimalist music, not_on_display. Terry Riley is another American composer who often gets lumped into this category as well.

For my money, Reich kicks Glass' ass, but that's just my opinion.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:07 AM on January 2, 2008


Reich's Different Trains.

Reich's Music for 18 Musicians.

My two favorite Reich pieces. Anyone else?
posted by xmutex at 9:10 AM on January 2, 2008


Nice, thank you! That prompted the instant gratification child in me to look on Amazon, where I found City Life on MP3 for $4.50. Should you wish a studio recording, that is.

Reich and Glass are different enough that I'm glad we have both. I really enjoy the later Glass music for pure texture and atmosphere; sort of the classical equivalent of trance or something. Reich's stuff has always been more emotional to me, particularly his use of tape loops. Come Out still sends chills down my spine, and Different Trains has stuck in my head for several years.
posted by Nelson at 9:15 AM on January 2, 2008


Thanks for this - great stuff
posted by mattr at 9:20 AM on January 2, 2008


Anyone else?

Well, it's not my favorite, but Drumming is a piece that should be heard by anyone into rhythm and cross-rhythm. It's a bare-bones exploration of pulse and metrics that's definitely worth checking out. In terms of sophistication and, well, groove, it's certainly not up to the level of lots of African traditional drum ensemble stuff, but, hey, what is, right?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:24 AM on January 2, 2008


xmutex: My money will always be on Four Organs. Simple, powerful, trance-inducing.
posted by mykescipark at 9:25 AM on January 2, 2008


Nelson, did Amazon really sell it to you for $4.50? When I click through the price is $7.99. Has the price changed, or maybe you're getting a different deal (I'd heard they might be price discriminating for different customers...)?
posted by twsf at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2008


Reich's stuff seems infinitely more varied than Glass's. His compositions seem distinct from one another, and listening to enough Glass, and there's, like, that Glass riff. I'm simplifying, but...
posted by xmutex at 9:30 AM on January 2, 2008


New York Counterpoint is one of my favorites-- the interlocking clarinet parts are joyful and absolutely effervescent. And it is the only time I have ever used the phrase "look out, here comes the bass clarinet!"
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 9:34 AM on January 2, 2008


Anyone else?

Reich's Triple Quartet is currently my favorite, but that designation tends to change often.
posted by statolith at 9:34 AM on January 2, 2008


"Oh Dem Watermelons" is one of my favorite soundtracks, but this dance piece is cool.
posted by hortense at 9:35 AM on January 2, 2008


Elliott Carter on minimalism (among other things).
posted by Wolfdog at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2008


Nelson, did Amazon really sell it to you for $4.50? When I click through the price is $7.99.

Yes. The price for the album is $7.99. Or you can buy just the 5 City Life tracks at $0.90 a piece. I bought the whole album, mostly because I only had to click once to do that. And besides, it's more Steve Reich!

(I'm not enamoured by the performance, btw. It's very tidy and safe. But minimalist music suffers less from varying artist interpretation than most classical music, so it's ok.)
posted by Nelson at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2008


With Glass, you can pretty much get one or two of his albums, and basically own the entire breadth of the guy's work. With Reich, you kinda need to get each individual piece to really get the entirety of his work.
posted by papakwanz at 10:12 AM on January 2, 2008


Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Steve Reich.
posted by hootch at 10:34 AM on January 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


My favorite of his is probably Piano Phase. It hurts my head in a good way.
posted by kindall at 10:56 AM on January 2, 2008


Well, now that these have started...

Knock knock.
Who's there?

WAGNER!!!!!!!!!!11
posted by invitapriore at 10:58 AM on January 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


On topic, I also consider Reich to be in a very different category from Glass. Reich's work is minimalist like machine language is minimalist: his developments are discrete and simple, but he builds some very large and intriguing structures with them. New York Counterpoint is a great example. I get no real sense of development from Glass.
posted by invitapriore at 11:08 AM on January 2, 2008


Also, New York Counterpoint is one of the most interesting manipulations of timbre I've ever heard. Listening to the first segment of it, I didn't initially believe that it was being played with acoustic instruments.
posted by invitapriore at 11:09 AM on January 2, 2008


The first time I heard Steve Reich was in the late Sixties. It was basically a soundbite of a street preacher saying "It's going to RAIN after a while" phased in and out and repeated and etc. I'd never heard anything like it.
posted by kozad at 11:18 AM on January 2, 2008


Steve Reich caught my ear back in the 70s with "Come out and show them"

Unfortunately, I can't give a link to the actual music, you have to find the album or use "other means" to get it. It's a tape loop piece displaying an early example of his work with slightly out-of-phase repetition. If that doesn't make sense to you, once you hear the piece, you will see what it means. Besides being very nice on it's own, the piece also gives insight into Reich's later work.
posted by charlesminus at 11:22 AM on January 2, 2008


I apologize for that link. Let me try again, this is the first time I have posted a link.
Come Out and Show Them
posted by charlesminus at 11:28 AM on January 2, 2008


Knock knock.
Who's there?
Steve Reich. Steve Reich. Steve Reich. Steve Reih. Steve Reih. Steve Reih. Stove Reih. Stove Reih. Stove Reih. Stove Leih. Stove Leih. Stove Leih...


...Stive Meich. Stive Meich. Stive Meich. Steve Meich. Steve Meich. Steve Meich. Steve Reich. Steve Reich. Steve Reich.

(end first movement)

That said and done, I'm hard-pressed to think of a Reich piece I haven't liked. But I second "Different Trains" and "Music for 18 Musicians". And if you play "It's Gonna Rain" at a gathering, you quickly find out who your friends are.
posted by the sobsister at 11:53 AM on January 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Steve Reich is one of my favorite living composers. My fave work: The Desert Music, for chorus and orchestra. This recording of that work absolutely shimmers.
posted by the_bone at 12:24 PM on January 2, 2008



Who's there?
John Cage.
posted by ardgedee at 1:14 PM on January 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


K N O C K ,
E R E ? G K
H U M B E N
T R . O O
S C E G R C
' O H W ! K

posted by Wolfdog at 4:36 PM on January 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Thanks so much for this, wittgenstein. I'm just through part two, and loving it. Wikipedia says the work was actually commissioned by the Ensemble Moderne, so this looks like the world premiere.

Does this actually have anything to do with urban life, or is that just a catchy title?

Well, given that the video intercuts performance footage with city scenes and shots of the score, which includes instructions like "subway air," "bus air" and "door slam," with appropriate samples repeated throughout, I'd say it's the former. :)

Reich is more interesting to me than Glass, generally. One of the most enjoyable music episodes of my life was being stuck in rush hour traffic on the 15-501 bypass around the south end of Chapel Hill one afternoon, listening to WXYC and hearing the dj toss on side one of Tehillim, an amazing work for women's voice and instruments that uses four Hebrew psalms as its base. I was stuck there through the whole thing.

It was the most spiritual experience I've ever had in a car.
posted by mediareport at 7:16 PM on January 2, 2008


With Glass, you can pretty much get one or two of his albums, and basically own the entire breadth of the guy's work. With Reich, you kinda need to get each individual piece to really get the entirety of his work.

You haven't llistened to enough Glass.
Certain motifs do recur in some of his work, but can iTaipu. Anknaten, Einstein on the Beach, Glassworks, Tirol Concerto, The Hours...be more different from each other?
posted by HTuttle at 8:42 PM on January 2, 2008


I can't believe my SO hasn't seen this thread yet. She loves all that minimalist stuff and plays Reich all the time.

My two favorite Reich pieces. Anyone else?

Yeah, the only thing I can stand to listen to of his: Reich Remixed--a collection of remixes by various DJs. City Life was featured on it, done by DJ Spooky.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:31 PM on January 2, 2008


Here is Einstein @ the beach "with the kind permission of Phillip Glass"
posted by hortense at 9:33 PM on January 2, 2008


I saw Einstein on the Beach way back in 1983 at the "Next Wave" Festival, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) theatre. I was utterly turned off to Lucinda Childs' numerical choreography, and the whole thing just left me cold, actually. I wanted to like it, but I was, plain and simple, bored as hell. I reckon some folks will think I'm an uncultured yokel for that, but, hey, whaddayagunnado?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:17 AM on January 3, 2008


Seconding Tehillim.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:30 AM on January 3, 2008


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