Boomkat Product Review:
Superior Viaduct present a definitive early iteration of Steve Reich’s seminal ‘Drumming’ for the first time. Recorded at the work’s Town Hall premiere in NYC, 1971, its a more organic performance than the later, better known recording featured on Deutsche Grammofon’s recently reissued 1974 boxset
Inescapably one of the most important musical milestones of the last century, Drumming radically distilled percussive traditions from Ghana and Indonesia in a minimalist framework which revolutionised ideas about polyrhythms and phasing timbre in the context of classical music, and most specifically the body of minimalism, which was then only just emerging through the work of Reich and Philip Glass.
Performed seamlessly in four parts on eight small drums, three marimbas, three glockenspiel, piccolo and voice by an ensemble including esteemed percussionist Jon Gibson and vocalist Joan LaBarbera, Drumming Music calls for the percussion and voices to be percolated and phase shifted in a manner that essentially focussed on rhythmelody and slight timbral shifts, as opposed to harmonic development.
In a most beautiful sense, the piece places emphasis on a new way of listening to music which dispensed with the overblown gestures associated with the old world and pulled away from the harshness of serialism toward a sound which better reflected the rolling structures of ancient practices, while also discovering seductive new realms of exploration for Western Classical music in the process.
All that aside, it’s just an utterly entrancing piece of music that keeps listeners rapt to its syncopated subtleties for the entirety of its 82 minute duration. An essential piece in any collection.