Tag Archives: Steve Reich

Tomorrow belongs to those that can hear it coming: David Bowie

The world mourns the passing of the extraordinary David Bowie; like Miles Davis, someone ceaselessly reinventing himself in order to ford a new direction.

Photo: Adam Bielawski
Photo: Adam Bielawski

The man, like the music, refused to recognise boundaries. Bowie was present at the European peremiere of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians; the affair with Minimalism continued in the Low Symphony and Heroes, in which Bowie’s music is seen through the eyes of Philip Glass. As Glass himself observes in the interview below, Bowie’s music ‘went beyond the niceties and the categories of pop music.’ Glam-rock; ambient; the Berlin Period; pop; the stylistically-eclectic Black Tie, White Noise; the music refuses to behave, to fit neat categories.


A dedicated instigator, not follower, of fashion, Bowie has been called a ‘professional suit-wearer,’ attuned as he was to the power of the visual spectacle.  Acting, composing, performing; Bowie’s career was lived like the opening of Let’s Dance, a in a state of continual lift-off, always moving forward, and ready to break out into something new. It’s impossible to hear that wild, visceral introduction and not be grabbed by its sense of lifting you up. The start of New Killer Star, the opening track on ‘Reality,’ feels like some long-limbed insect struggling awkwardly climbing into view before it launches into flamboyant, swaggering rock (flam-rock ?).

BowieA true Everyman; in his different stage creations, his flamboyant outfits and swaggering musicianship, he spoke to you in a way that made you feel his music was addressing you, and you alone, that showed you that being different was something good, some thing of to be proud. The poet John Siddique put his finger on it earlier, writing on Twitter ‘Thank you for helping make room in this world for the strange arty kids.’

The RCA advert promoting Heroes carried Bowie’s own line, ‘Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.’ He certainly did that. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues, to mourn the death by celebrating the music.


Another Adams: composer John Luther Adams.

It’s always exciting to discover a new composer whose musical language instantly appeals to you.

I can still recall the exact moment when I first heard a piece by Steve Reich: Vermount Counterpoint. I was immediately hooked.  A pal at school had made a compilation tape of pieces for me, including Eight Lines, Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ, Six Pianos, and a piece by another Minimalist, John Adams, Grand Pianola Music. Now my listening library is dominated by these two composers.

John Luther AdamsI’ve recently discovered another Adams: John Luther Adams, whose hypnotic music occupies a similar niche. The beautiful soundscape of In a Treeless Place, Only Snow  is a delicate gem.

Listen to it for yourself: In a Treeless Place, Only Snow.

And if you like that, try this: The Farthest Place.

Both performances by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, with other pieces streamed from WXQR, the classical radio station in New York’s website here as well.

(And continuing the leap into the Digital Age: you’re now using a media player on this blog as well. Blogs, virtual magazines, video-clips, floating media player: the modernisation continues!)

So, what music struck you like a thunderbolt early on and has stayed with you ever since ?