Minimal at Liminal
Willamette Week, February 26, 2003
By Richard Speer
It’s cold in the Liminal Space, but nobody cares. The audience is content to shiver through this music, which was radical 40 years ago and still has the power to grip, if not, anymore, to shock. There’s nary a rustle in the (ware)house as proto-minimalist John Cage’s infamous 4′33″ fills the air with a whole lotta nothin’, but people get up and walk around—or lie on the floor and zone—during Terry Riley’s hypnotic In C, in which a dozen musicians overlap musical lines, guided only by a xylophone pulse and a male vocalist’s drone.
For Philip Glass’ 1+1 a percussionist taps a prescribed rhythm on a tabletop, then taps it out again to pre-recorded accompaniment. Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music consists of four microphones swaying back and forth over amps, producing vaguely unnerving feedback. Minimalism has evolved in myriad directions since the ’60s, but Liminal has successfully conjured up the heady, experimental days of its infancy.