“It’s Gonna Rain” (1965).
Like “Come Out”, this work is derived from a tape loop. It has two parts, each based on a separate speech loop. The first part (which actually contains the “it’s gonna rain” phrase) is okay, but the second part (which talks about flesh melting off of hands and God sealing the door so the sinners can’t enter) is the really good part, and it’s that part that I’ll discuss below.
This is one scary piece. Until I looked at the dates on the CD, I thought this was the latest of Steve Reich’s process music works, because it sounds, to me, like the apotheosis of that style. It not only sounds like the Flood or the Deluge or even the Apocalypse, but like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” burning and gnashing their teeth in the flames of Hades. I’m talking about the latter part of the piece where the original speech has broken up and morphed into something far more frightening than some street preacher who you can shrug off while you continue your shopping in Union Square (where the source tape for this was originally recorded). The truly frightening thing is that all the sounds in this piece are implicit in the original tape of the street preacher.
One night I was listening to this piece and it reminded me of a part in the book The Exorcist. I mean the section where top linguistic scientists at the Vatican analyze the tapes of the possessed girl Regan and determine that she’s actually speaking backwards! (This was much scarier in the book than my description of it.) You get the feeling that if you ran all Steve Reich’s processes in reverse on this piece that you wouldn’t get the original street preacher’s text back, but, perhaps, the voice of Beelzebub speaking and telling us what’s really going on. And that’s probably far, far from the tony stores and tourist trap bars surrounding Union Square.