Music for 18 Musicians album cover
Music for 18 Musicians

Steve Reich

Composed by:  Steve Reich

ECM Records

I recently made breakfast for my father for his birthday while listening to Music for 18 Musicians, using it as a way to describe Reich’s phasing composition style to someone who would eventually gripe that after ¾ through the record nothing had “changed”. But whether you’re listening to this massive work preparing egg sandwiches or listening intently, it’s hard to ignore the stamina taken to perform this nearly hour long track of chords upon chords, blending into one another. A steady tempo reveals different rhythmic patterns, soft vocals puttering in and out. It’s hard music to describe, but surprisingly easy to listen to as the soft waves of horns and pianos gallop alongside constant, ethereal flutes. Propellant ambient minimalism, if such a thing exists. 

Alex Riggs

The 1978 recording of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians is a monument of the American minimalist movement — even though Reich himself was never fully comfortable with that genre designation. He would often point out that the purpose of his music wasn’t to induce a trance; it was to make you hear things you’ve never imagined. This work does just that: although superficially based on a simple rhythmic pulse, it creates tremendous complexity through the use of internal polyrythms and phasing; wind parts and wordless vocals fade in and out while percussion instruments weave a gentle but complicated nest of beats underneath.

Rick Anderson

Who also suggested

If you select your preferred streamer here, we will save your preference and link to that platform if possible. This can always be changed in the Settings menu.

Apple Music

If you’d like to prioritize Bandcamp if available, tap the Bandcamp logo.

Since some albums are only available on one service, you’ll still see logos for other services if the album is only available on that service.