Erik Hall: Pulses

Musician and producer, Erik Hall, also known with the moniker In Tall Buildings and as a composer of film music, makes a solid attempt experimenting with Steve Reich's renowned work of musical minimalism, Music for 18 Musicians, and becomes only the second artist to try their hand on this piece by themselves.

"I was driving through a blizzard back to Ann Arbor from a trip to Toronto," Hall recalls engaging with Reich's work for the first time in the early 2000s. "I had the Music for 18 Musicians CD on loan from the school library and was mesmerized. Since that day I’ve basically never found anything better to listen to than that."

As for when he decided to try his hand at it, he reveals: "My wife and I had just moved from the city to rural southwest Michigan, where I set up a new recording space. She knew I was looking for my next project and offered the idea in passing. It immediately felt like a crazy and perfectly natural thing to do."

Although Hall tries a completely different instrumental approach, the result is very similar to the broad-mindedness of the original, and maintains all of the work's minimal nature, as xylophones give way to muted pianos, violin is replaced with electric guitar, and the bass clarinet with the Moog synthesizer.

"Of course my version would be fundamentally different," Hall explains, "but I didn’t want the differences to be distracting or gimmicky. I wanted it to be true to the timbre and spirit of the original recording, to come across with the same impact that we know the piece to have.

"I’m aware of the inherent audacity of the project, but I couldn’t resist the simple joy of getting to participate in this music I’ve loved so much for so long. Subsequently, as the layers piled up and the piece started to really take shape, that feeling was joined by utter humility towards the composition."

Opening movement, Pulses, unfolds the reverence with which Erik Hall goes toward this project, and presents a fresh and clear take on a modern classic.

Erik Hall's version of Music for 18 Musicians is set for release May 8th, 2020 via Western Vinyl.


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