Although 29 minutes may seem like a short duration for an album, do not jump to the conclusion that this is an EP. Yes, Philip, Androids Dream Electric Sheep contains a single work by American composer Daniel Rothman, but its slow pace and the intense listening it demands are enough to pair up with a full-hour disc. The title answers Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Why the cybernetics connection? Because this piece is written for the "teleclarinet," a clarinet modified to control signal processing in real time. The manipulator (Mark Trayle for this recording) amplifies the instrument's center frequencies to grasp evanescent harmonics while the clarinetist (David Smeyers) plays long, soft notes or dissonant multiphonics. Unless you have a hands-on understanding of the instrument's natural possibilities, it is almost impossible to draw the line between the two protagonists' work. The piece was written in 1998 and recorded in 2000 for Radio Bremen. References to minimalists like Morton Feldman and Giacinto Scelsi are in order, but Rothman explores something else here, like the inner peace of an instrument. The paradox between a soothing mood and a demanding listen accounts for the fascination the piece exerts. Rothman's music is hard to come by on record (one example being the 1997 New World CD Cézanne's Doubt). Listeners should be thankful for this short addendum.
AllMusic Review by François Couture