Manages to feel like more than just a performance of Music For 18 Musicians, while still being true to the original. This sounds like a dedicated fan's tribute to Steve Reich and his work, probably because that's what it is. The use of electric guitars and synthesizers is very fitting given that the minimalism Steve Reich displayed is the same kind of minimalism common to electronic music. My preferred version of this, for now.
Favorite track: Section VI.
A re-interpretation so often comes from an impulse, even if subliminal, of one-upmanship – let me do better, wait ‘til you hear it my way. Sometimes though, and it happens too rarely, the cover is an act of devotion in which a musician’s humility produces something more beautiful than bravura could. When Erik Hall undertook his painstaking reconstruction of Steve Reich’s 1976 masterpiece of minimalism, “Music for Eighteen Musicians”, it was as much an exercise in modesty as ambition. With its repetitions and complex constructions, the piece makes great demands on stamina and concentration, and Reich himself advised that these challenges meant it should probably be performed with more than eighteen musicians. Hall, however, recorded every part himself in his small home studio, playing instruments he had on hand, in live, single takes. Here, then is the ambition. But here too is the modesty: by doing one section a day, one instrument at a time, he made his way through this monumental piece, building a faithful and loving re-creation, one sonic brick at a time. Xylophone becomes muted piano, violin becomes electric guitar and so it is that music for eighteen becomes music for one. “I didn’t want it to be distracting, or a gimmick,” says Hall, who’s loved the piece for as long as he can remember. “I wanted it to be true to the timbre and spirit of the original recording,” and he thought a great deal about, “how I would shape the tone of each instrument, to come across with the same impact that we know the piece to have.” His methodology, as with Reich’s piece itself, is workmanlike, and it’s from this humble and steadfast undertaking that something honest and radiant emerges. – Hermione Hoby
released May 8, 2020
Performed and recorded by Erik Hall at home in Galien, Michigan, February 2019, using prepared piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond M-101 organ, Moog Sub 37 synthesizer, Nord Lead synthesizer, electric guitar, electric bass, Roland CR-68 drum machine, and processed voice.
Composed by Steve Reich, 1974 - 1976
Mixed with Brian Deck at Narwhal Studios, Chicago, IL
Mastered by Warren Defever at Third Man Mastering, Detroit, MI