When you trace the roots of minimalist, electronic and drone music back to their 20th century roots, 2 names often come up – John Cage and La Monte Young. La Monte Young was a pioneer in the use of long repetitive tones and convoluted long distance melodies. His music has influenced artists as divergent as Dylan Carson (Earth), John Cale, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, Jung Hee Choi and I think we can safely say Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. I feel the best way to appreciate La Monte Young’s music is to turn it up loud, turn out the lights and lie down.
I first heard Philip Glass’s music in 1989 when I was 19 and at that time I’d never heard anything like it. My girlfriend insisted on playing Einstein on the Beach while we developed film in the dark together. It certainly made the dark room interesting ! In 1992 she begged me to go and see Einstein on the Beach in Melbourne but I was too poor and too lazy to go. In hindsight I wish that I had. Since then I’ve continued to enjoy Philip Glass’s music now and then. My favourite album is Metamorphosis, which I feel is a minimalist master piece. Followed by Etudes 1-10. Einstein on the Beach is very interesting and clever but like a lot of minimalism lacks any real depth of feeling. Still, I like it. Glass has been one of the great catalysts of minimalist music and I suspect his music will continue to be listened to and to influence people for centuries to come.
The wonderful Robert Rich’s sleepish Perpetual – an electro minimalist masterpiece.
John Cage is no longer with us but his legacy will remain for a very long time. John Cage had a lot to say about silence and sound and questioned the very nature of music.
More on John Cage here :