Following their acclaimed 2004 Cantaloupe debut, So Percussion has completed its biggest project so far: an entirely new recording of Steve Reich's epic Drumming, made in an entirely new way. This is the first recording of its kind, in which the 4 members of So perform all nine separate percussion parts while joined by the singers of Reich's own ensemble. The result is a direct, precise sound, with a clarity that illuminates this landmark piece. This CD brings the percussion world's Beethoven 9th into the 21st century.
"One of the most eloquent and inventive spokesmen in the world of minimalist music, Reich became intrigued with rhythm at an early age; his interest in Asian and African music came later. Drumming, the development of a single rhythmic figure inspired by Reich's experiences in Ghana, helped make him a celebrated figure and has been widely performed. It would be hard to imagine a more persuasive performance than So Percussion's; accurate, engaged and rich in vitality. Rarely does Western percussion sound so varied."
-R.M. Campbell, Seattle Post Intelligencer
"The four member So Percussion's new CD of Steve Reich's Drumming can safely be described as definitive."
"Brilliantly recorded version .... Through the magic of studio recording, the young quartet covers all nine parts, lending the music all the supernatural unanimity and precision it demands."
-Time Out New York
"One will not find a better representation of Drumming on disc."
-Dave Lewis, All Music Guide
For So Percussion, the reasons to play Steve Reich?s Drumming are simple: it is exhilarating to perform, it is elemental yet intelligent, and it is fun to share with audiences. The other story, however, is an evolutionary approach to musical composition. Although every note of Drumming rocks, its existence is due to the composer?s tireless search for new modes of musical expression.
For Reich, Drumming was both a refinement of past techniques and a departure for new ones. Most importantly, he wanted audiences to hear all of the processes that make the music what it is. One rhythm permeates the entire piece. At the beginning, two players dramatically build that rhythm up one note at a time. This is a bold statement: Many other composers of Reich?s generation worked very hard to construct layers of mind-boggling complexity in their music.
Once this rhythm builds up, one player starts moving slightly faster than the other. The result sounds at first like a musical train wreck, but gradually a new rhythm emerges, which is really the same rhythm set in different places. Other musicians then begin picking out patterns from this grid. These patterns move through three different instrument families (drums, marimbas, glockenspiels), and gradually up four octaves over the course of an hour.
Reich's study in Africa enabled him to write music that had to be percussion music. Its ecstatic grooves communicate directly, without pretense. Drumming captures the immediacy of that experience, and gives us a reference point for work still to come.
- Adam Sliwinski
For more information about the performers and composer please visit the artist pages for So Percussion and Steve Reich .