What can I possibly write about Steve Reich? He has been described as America’s most important living composer, is one of the biggest influences on modern electronica, as someone who is one “a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history,” according to critic Andrew Clements. He has a frighteningly large catalogue of music that stretches across seventy years, so I’ll just highlight tonight ‘Come Out’.
Created in 1966 for a benefit concert for the ‘Harlem 6’, six young African-Americans who were arrested for the murder of Margit Sugar in Harlem after the Little Fruit Stand Riot in 1964. Innocence did not save them from being brutalized and abused by the police. Reich was given more than 70 hours worth of taped interviews with the boys; he took a four-second clip of Daniel Hamm talking about his injuries and looped it into a composition that lasts thirteen minutes. It’s almost frightening to me how he shreds this sample into elemental filaments. It feels like music gone off it’s medication and is utterly hypnotic and brilliant.
Here is an article from 1966 by James Baldwin, published in The Nation regarding the Harlem 6.
Have a good night and take care, everyone!