There a few musical movements that have been as divisive as minimalism. In its very first incarnation, it was met with disdainful derision. ‘Going-nowhere music’ or ‘wallpaper music’ was no better than the so-called low-brow pop music of the day. Too maddeningly simple to be ‘art proper’. Yet today, the influence of minimalism is unbounded: from the locked-grooves of Krautrock to floor-filling EDM; from film soundtracks to the holy drones of Sunn O))).
Given it’s sprawling history, definitions of minimalism are notoriously difficult to pin down. Repetitive, or meditative features are often singled out. But the pure tones of La Monte Young are not so much repetitive as they are monolithic; and you would need the concentration of a monk to meditate alongside some of Philip Glass’ chromatic experiments. On our second show with Resonance FM, we spoke to Lucia Chung and Martin Thompson of neo-minimalist label SM-LL to talk about minimalism today: its aesthetics, its ethics and its practice.