‘a beautifully pastoral and mesmerising work’ ***Guardian
This serene and idyllic homage to the music of Steve Reich, by musician and producer Chris Hughes is a timely re-issue of its 1994 release. A well-kept secret for many years, this record was originally released to rapturous reviews and treasured by the initiated as an exquisitely personal and creative honouring of Reich’s work. This year marks the celebration of Steve Reich’s 75th in concert halls around the world, including the Barbican and this year’s BBC Proms.
The seed of the “Shift” project was planted in1972 when Hughes’s artist father took him to the European premiere of Reich’s composition “Drumming”. So began an exploration and a fascination with Reich’s work that sustained over many years. “Shift” is a series of variations on early Reich compositions, appreciatively described by reviewers as a “work of love” expressing “the delicate, intricate mathematics of the soul”. Hughes himself believes that “Shift” is his own most natural and instinctively creative work – and it shows. Widely acknowledged to evoke instant tranquillity, its accompanying notes contain a gentle suggestion to “Play quietly”.
A respected producer in his own right with impeccable musical credentials, Hughes is best known for producing Tears for Fears’ platinum selling ‘Songs from the Big Chair’ album and co-writing ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. His impressive track record began when as drummer and producer with Adam and the Ants he developed their distinctive Burundi sound. He went on to pioneer the artistic development and debut albums of Mercury Music Prize nominees Tom McCrae and The Electric Soft Parade and as a world-renowned drummer has played with Enya, Tori Amos and Peter Gabriel.
Hughes’s intelligent rendering of Reich’s work in mesmerising gamelan sequences, loops and phrases is both beautiful and hypnotic. He has said of the making “Shift” “I was never interested in chasing the fashionable aspect of Reich’s work. Equally I was unconcerned with making a grand statement. Quite simply, I made this record with a good heart and perhaps that’s the best way to respond to it”.
In this year, the seventy-fifth anniversary of his birth, the re-released “Shift” remains one of the loveliest and most accessible ways of discovering the magic of Reich.