Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick: The Wild Beasts

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

Morton Subotnick achieved fame in the field of electronic music with Silver Apples of the Moon and The Wild Bull, his best-known tape works of the late 1960s. Since then, he has been active combining electronics with other media, notably employing gestural sketches on tape to alter sounds produced by voices and instrumentalists. The two works on this 2015 Wergo release are representative of Subotnick's methods, using a trumpet with a chamber ensemble in After the Butterfly, to realize his original "ghost score" on tape, and trombone, piano, and "ghost electronics" to create novel sonorities in The Wild Beasts. While the details of Subotnick's procedures are well described in his notes, as far as spelling out how his methods modify the performances, listeners may be more inclined to let the music wash over them and notice striking effects along the way, rather than strain to identify any operation. Ultimately, Subotnick's music is less about the technology he uses than it is intensely concerned with the translation and reception of ideas and the experience of listening. Much of the music in these works is identifiable as instrumental pitches and vocal effects, but the strange hybrid created through electronic means puts these works in a new category of musical synthesis. Recommended for adventurous listeners.

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