In 1978 ECM released Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Reich may be known as a minimal music composer but this work is far more sophisticated and layered than one's first listen may reveal. The composition begins with "Pulses" which introduces a hypnotic cycle of eleven chords. Each chord gets its own section. The "pulses" are now joined by marimbas and xylophones, then female voices. The entire effort is summed up with a return to "Pulses".
David Bowie listed the album among his 25 favorite of all time in an article for Vanity Fair, writing:
Bought in New York. Balinese gamelan music cross-dressing as Minimalism. Saw this performed live in downtown New York in the late 70s. All white shirts and black trousers. Having just finished a tour in white shirt and black trousers, I immediately recognized Reich’s huge talent and great taste. The music (and the gymnastics involved in executing Reich’s tag-team approach to shift work) floored me. Astonishing.
The Village Voice critic Robert Christgau graded the album an A- writing: