The Schmooze

Nonesuch Pulls Steve Reich's Controversial 'WTC 9/11' Album Cover

“[It] looks like something swiped from Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign press shop circa January 2008,” Seth Colter Walls wrote in a July 21 piece for Slate about the cover for Minimalist composer Steve Reich’s “WTC 9/11.”

Walls had no problem with “WTC 9/11” itself; he called Reich’s composition for three string quartets combined with recorded voices “a complex and intriguing achievement.” His beef was with the album cover art for the Kronos Quartet’s studio recording of the piece, which is set for release on September 1. The cover features a photograph of the second plane bearing down on the second tower of The World Trade Center as smoke billows out of the first tower. Walls noted that the image was darkened and dirtied, making the upsetting image even scarier.

As it turns out, Walls was not the only one displeased with the choice of album art. Many thought that the commercial use of this traumatic iconic image was insensitive and inappropriate. In response to an uproar over what was perceived as a lack of good taste, Reich’s prestigious Nonesuch label announced last week that it would pull the cover, according to a follow-up piece on Slate.

Replacement art has not yet been released, and Reich has not actually apologized for the original image choice. Here is what he had to say:

Interestingly, the image of train tracks on Reich’s Holocaust-themed “Different Trains” album cover did not provoke such a response. Then again, one set of tracks looks the same as another, whereas there is no mistaking exactly which towers those were on the “WTC 9/11” album cover.

Recommend this article

Nonesuch Pulls Steve Reich's Controversial 'WTC 9/11' Album Cover

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close