5. Steve Reich : 'Reich: The Desert Music' (1997)

Steve Reich is a Jewish-American composer who helped pioneer the style of minimalism. The Minimalist Movement, headed by composers such as La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Phillip Glass and Reich offered a new direction, a tangible framework in which twentieth-century music could progress.

When I first connected with Daniel Miller and Mute Records, I had my eyes opened to electronic music (which I didn't know much about at the time). Of course, I was drawn in, through the likes of Kraftwerk. The repetitive nature of the progressions gets you hooked, while gradually (and sometime imperceptibly) changing and evolving. Kraftwerk would have led to discovering similarities in the minimalists - Philip Glass and Steve Reich most notably. Reich is a bit more interesting; there's something about the melodies and sound combinations that are more evocative which is why I have chosen one of his pieces here.

Launching his career in the mid-1960's, Reich's innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns combined with simple, audible processes to explore musical concepts. Compositions, marked by their use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and canons, have significantly influenced contemporary music. And his work took on a darker character in the 1980s with the introduction of historical themes as well as themes from his Jewish heritage, notably with his work - 'Different Trains'.

The Desert Music was completed between September 1982 and December 1983. It was commissioned by The West German Radio in Cologne and The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.

The first movement begins with a pulse. It tends to use hypnotic cyclic drones so that the changes in the music are steady and subtle. (In fact, Reich compares listening to Minimalist music to  ... watching the minute hand of a clock - you perceive it moving only after you observe it for a while. )

The instrumentation suddenly becomes sparse, quieter, and the melodies start to emerge. In addition to the orchestra, which consists of mostly percussion, marimbas, and strings, Reich also incorporates a choir to sing specific verses from poems by William Carlos Williams.

Musically, I enjoy anything that ranges from good pop music through to classical and the avant-garde. I try to pull all of those elements into what I do. I'm clearly interested in orchestration and the finer details - records where you discover something new with each listen. All the best albums are like that. I guess you would say that's the common thread in all of my choices. It's not just about the songs and the words.

01. Television : 'Marquee Moon' (1977)
02. Lou Reed : 'Berlin' (1973)
03. Public Image Ltd. : 'MetalBox' (1979)
04. Talk Talk : 'Spirit Of Eden' (1988)
05. Steve Reich : 'Reich: The Desert Music' (1997)
06. David Bowie : 'Aladdin Sane' (1973)
07. Radiohead : 'OK Computer' (1997)
08. Massive Attack : 'Collected' (1998)
09. Morrissey : 'You Are The Quarry' (2004)
10. Eno : 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy' (1974)
11. The Beatles : 'The White album' (1968)
12. Górecki : 'Symphony #3, Op. 36' (1992)
13. Pink Floyd : 'Meddle' (1971)