Steve Reich’s “The Cave” at The Barbican

Saw The Cave last night. It’s basically a multimedia collaboration about the story of Abraham. Parts of the bible are typed out rhythmically and displayed multilingually on five monitors. The rhythmic typing gets joined by clapping and then orchestration, and occasional slightly-questionable operatic singing. Then the massive turd hit when it segued into sampled interviews of people editorialising on their perceptions of or relations to Abraham and his seed. This would have been fine, and even interesting if the interviews had been played unadulterated atop the often brilliant music, but the audio-video was cut up in the style of an 8 year old with his first two-second-memory Casio sampler ad naseum. It would seriously go on and on for ten minutes with the same sample bank of maybe 5 clips. FUCKING SPIT IT OUT! Utterly tedious worse than water torture nonsense. The only thing that was missing was the dog barks. To say that it’s dated poorly would be too generous.

The first part ended with five cameras roaming around a temple or mosque or something in circles for about ten minutes with very quiet ambience in the background. This amounted to the effect of watching 5 CCTV cameras with nothing going on to a lullaby. It put me to sleep (which was actually an improvement on the antecedent annoyance). We ran out at the first short break. Anya and Jason had the misfortune of staying through the next 40 minutes until the first interval, which they said got worse. They also said there was a fairly massive exodus then. Not surprised. What a fucking disappointment. Especially since the music and the idea was so good, except for the fucking sampler abuse. It very well may have been more acceptable in the early ’90s. I mean we listened to shit with all sorts of sampler abuse back then, but this was severely grating.

Still looking forward to Music for 18 Musicians and Konono 1 on Sunday though.