Morton Subotnick


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When it became clear that quadraphonic sound was not going to catch on in any meaningful numbers, Morton Subotnick reined in his forces in turn, composing "Sidewinder" and every subsequent electronic piece for Columbia in two-channel stereo. With the shrinkage of available channels came a scaling back in theatricality, for "Sidewinder" is a subtler, quieter, less flamboyant piece of work than its wilder predecessors, though no less absorbing once you enter its sound world on its own terms. Though the title came as a suggestion after the piece had been conceived, each part of "Sidewinder" opens with the distant shaking of a distinctly snake-like electronic rattler. Moreover, the power of suggestion conjures images of parched desert landscapes invaded by sinister, relentlessly grinding machines. Yet to be transferred to CD, Sidewinder marked a turn inward for Subotnick that would last through most of his pure electronic work of the 1970s.

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