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CD Review

Steve Reich

Reich Remixed

  • Remixes of Steve Reich's music by Coldcut, Howie B, Andrea Parker, Tranquility Bass, Mantronik, Nobukazu Takemura, D*Note's, DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, and Ken Ishii
Nonesuch 79552-2 DDD 69:07
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

Here's a novel idea: take music by one of today's most relevant classical composers and invite a number of techno/dance DJs to remix it, as if it were "popular" club music. "Hooked on Classics" this ain't.

Although it's taken a little time to grow on me, I think Reich Remixed is one of 1999's most exciting CDs, no matter what category you try to place it in. It represents one of those rare occasions when two dissimilar ingredients give rise to something unforeseeably strange and new. With its emphasis on near-repetition, phase-shifting, and moiré-like patterns, Reich's music is well-suited to remixing, which is the amplification and extension of a source recording by the superimposition of new material, or by other electronic modifications. (That's a very simplistic description of what remixing is, but suffice it to say that a club DJ can be every bit as creative as the composer or the performer of the records he plays.) The DJs who were invited to participate in this project are the big innovators in their field. Given the disposable quality of much of today's popular music, they can make mountains out of molehills. Reich's music is more than a molehill, however, and so the results are impressive indeed. Reich's Nonesuch recordings are the strata that this international group was given. Some of them add extra touches. For example, I heard shreds from the Broadway cast recording of The Pajama Game in Howie B's remix of Eight Lines. What it all means, I don't know, but I expect that Dada knows best. I understand that Reich is not displeased by this project, by the way.

Yup, here's classical music you really can dance to… or trance to, if you prefer something a little less athletic. This CD is about as au courant as you can get, and it's a great opportunity for stiff-collared classicos and green-haired kids to meet on common territory. My favorites on this disc are Andrea Parker's dark remix of an excerpt from The Four Sections and Nobukazu Takemura's ethereal, magical revisitation of just a few notes from Proverb, but there's nothing on this CD that doesn't work. There is a mystery, however: the CD has 10 tracks, although only 9 are listed. This is the sort of prank that techno folks love, and I suppose it the disparity was intentional.

The executive producer of Reich Remixed is Amy Coffey. If she was responsible for putting this project together, kudos to her. Who knows what this could lead to?

Copyright © 1999, Raymond Tuttle