I have yet to hear a more beautifull, mesmerising, delicate piece of music than Steve Reich's "Music For 18 Musicians". For me it truely is the pinnacle of 'minimalism' - extremely complex but deeply emotional as well.
On the train to work yesterday my brain was sparking weird flashes of light, my nose was deeply clogged and sleep was just a vague longing from hours before. So I started listening to the lesser known Ensemble Modern version and, after 15 minutes of slow drifting, my head dropped towards my chest and I managed to sleep away the pain.
So - it's music to make you sleep - that can't be much good for anything else, then, surely? Luckily it matches Eno's view on Ambient to the nth degree - you can ignore it (or use it for relaxation or whatever) but it also bears repeated, intense listening.
On the way home I had a choice of various new cds but I returned to the same lovely piece with an almost feverish desire to 'get it'. Ofcourse, being the musical pleb that I am, all those crochets and quavers and interlocking time signatures just went right past me. There were things I'd noticed before that became clearer like the gorgeous cluster of chords played on vibes that herald a key change but, mostly, I just let it envelope me all over again.
And yet again - I enjoyed it so much I played it almost twice on the same trip as I shifted between views of the ocean or bush and the book I was occassionally trying to read.
mp3: Excerpt from the 1st performance (whooee - legal)