Steve Reich: Pulse/Quartet (Nonesuch) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Steve Reich



Feb 05, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

If you’re not familiar with neo-classical composer Steve Reich’s music, you should be. Experimenting with melding classical and electronic music since the ‘70s, he is known as one of the founders of the minimalist movement along with other well-known avant-garde artists such as Philip Glass and Terry Riley. Now, even in his 80s, he is still a forward thinker and pushing his minimalist compositions into uncharted territory with Pulse/Quartet. But it is not so much a concept album as it is a couple of concept pieces.

“Pulse” is a mellow and melodic piece for electric bass, winds, strings, and piano. While the bass and piano provide a relaxed pulse, the music casually unfolds with gradual shifts in tone and texture provided by the winds and strings. Like a slow-motion dream sequence.

“Quartet” is a more complex piece divided into three parts, “I. Fast,” “II. Slow,” and “III. Fast.” The three parts are played with two vibes and two pianos and without pause. It is a bouncy and lively piece that shifts more frequently but still maintains a balance of minimalism.

Similar to John Cage and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, the repetitiveness and leisurely pace of the music can lull the listener into a trance-like state, while it stealthfully shifts gears, infusing assorted moods ranging from soothing to brooding to the simply sublime.

Pulse/Quartet could be used as a gateway to expose a new generation of music fans to minimalist, experimental ambient music from one the movement’s finest composers. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 4/10


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