We all feel rather too clever by half when we add some recorded dialogue to our homemade experimental miesterwerks don't we? Well,it may automatically qualify you to call yourself 'Avant-Garde' but this tactic has been around for as long as pop-art itself. In 1965 the not-so-young Steve Reich discovered that if he played one tape slightly slower than an other tape playing the same thing,it would slowly become out of phase and we get a jumbled up confused mess abstracting the meaning of the original to the point of the nonsense that it is. So Steve could just set the tapes running and sit back to let the music,or non-music, write itself. Another idea that Eno nicked,but in his case he used tape loops which eventually came back into to phase momentarily before slipping back out of phase again.
Reich wasn't the first to mess around with recorded dialogue of course. As far as I can assess that honour goes to Brion Gysin, followed diligently by William S. Burroughs, who were a direct influence on such Industrial types as Cabaret Voltaire, and Throbbing Gristle,before it was dumbed down by the availability of the Fairlight Sampler.This started a separate thread leading to Paul 'N.n.n.n.n.n.n.Nineteen' Hardcastle, and a flood of "Ah Yeah's" on yer kiddie-pop hits like Timmy Mallets version of "Teensy Weensy Yellow Polka-dot Bikini"......follow that with samples of Colonel Kurtz mumbling "The Horror....The Horror!"
So the moral behind this ugly truth is that no matter how avant garde you think you are, there's always some intellectual minnow who are gonna show your genius up for the sad cliché it has become,as it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive. Timmy Mallet...the great leveller.
Naturally, Steve Reich was messing with dialogue well before it became an Industrial Cliché,but his main innovation was his out of phase compositions, as represented here by his "Piano Phase" piece for two piano's.The discipline involved for two pianists to play at slightly varying tempo's is a thing of awe for me. I often struggle to play constantly in 4/4 time,so when my tempo wavers its incompetence rather than skill. This is the piece from where the Steve Reich style sprung from,and which launched a thousand Philip Glass compositions. Terry Riley was an influence it is said, and also, allegedly, Moondog (coming up soon).
There you go, I managed to write about Steve Reich without a single reference to anything Nazi.....i am now patting myself on the back.Just you wait for my take on "Different Trains"...I can't wait!
A1 Come Out 12:54
A2 Piano Phase 20:26
B1 Clapping Music 4:39
B2 It’s Gonna Rain 17:31