Morton Subotnick

Four Butterflies

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Though the majority of Subotnick's "butterfly" pieces were to be composed later during his "ghost score" period, this electronic canvas was the first outbreak of his preoccupation with that enigmatic insect to surface on LP. Set in four brief sections separated by two tiny interludes, Four Butterflies finds Subotnick burrowing further inward, restricting his palette of electronic colors ever more economically. The silences are longer, the overall volume level is low, and sometimes one thinks that these floating, mysterious, pitchless butterflies have vanished altogether. More crucially, the dramatic pacing that marked Subotnick's more exciting earlier electronic scores for the phonograph record is mostly lacking here, though there is structure in the form of a three-part development (larva-cocoon-butterfly) that he would use extensively in the future. "Butterfly No. 3" rises to a nice climax and reprises an agitated idea from "Touch," and "Butterfly No. 4" begins with a quietly insistent repeating ostinato, but for the most part these are very reticent creatures. The original LP has yet to be reissued.

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