Steve Reich 2×5 Harmonic Eternity Mix

There has recently been a competition over on Indaba to remix some Steve Reich material from his piece 2×5. I have loved his work for many years and tried to get to most of the premieres or lectures when they happen in Europe.

Unfortunately, due to a seriously intense couple of months at RjDj working on an amazing project, I wasn’t able to upload something in time. Oh well, I guess I can’t complain! But today I finally got a free weekend so I thought I would do one in a couple of hours.

Finished 4 hour 40 min version :

Hope you like it ! I would upload this to Indaba but it breaks their file upload limitations by being WAY too long!

Over the years I have had many conversations with people about Reich. Most of the people I have spoken to have fixated on structural characteristics of his work – phasing, repetition, evolution, rhythmic pulse etc. I love this stuff, but the most important thing for me about this music for me is the harmonic choices and the progression between them.

So for my remix I tried to extract purely that from the music and display it in the most elegant way I could. I originally thought of building this project entirely in Pure data, and even attempt to submit an interactive patch to the competition. But it seemed simpler to do it this way and I haven’t had enough time for the Pd route this time.

The process was as follows :

1. I took the stems and mixed them quite differently from the released recording, increasing stereo spread across all the instruments and EQing them to be smoother sounding.

2. I then cut up all the stems at the point of any significant chord change. After that I rearranged the stems back to front so the last segment played first.

3. I then applied a number of insert effects to this track. They were all done with some Steinberg bundled effects Stereo Enhancer, Chopper and Tonic filter. The Chopper was set to be continuously fading in and out using a triangle wave, which smoothed out instrument attack sounds. The Tonic filter was set to follow the envelope of the sound.

4. After applying a convolution reverb from a cathedral. I bounced this mix and reversed it. So now the track was playing sequentially forwards through the arrangement, but with each section reversed. At this point it sounded like this :

Prior to final processing mix :

Sidenote : I started working with the groove of this, programming some strange beats with it. It was quite fun, but I abandoned this approach as it felt too much like slapping beats on Reich. I’ve never felt this really does justice to his work. To me the Reich remixed cd was a great disappointment for this reason. I remember Michael Nyman saying something like it was an “interesting failure’. The only time I’ve really heard it work was here.

5. This mix was then bounced out and put through the wonderful Paulstretch. It was set to stretch many times its original length. Making the original track now 4 hours 40 minutes long!


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