Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Morton Subotnick: Silver Apples of the Moon; The Wild Bull
Genres: Dance & Electronic, New Age, Classical
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A unique and engaging voice from the pre-digital age.
Micah R. Sisk | Frederick, MD USA | 10/27/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It borders on the cliché to refer to electronic music-especially that composed before the advent of digital synthesis and the all-pervasive Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)-as bleep-bloop music. But, it cannot be denied, there was a lot of bleeping and blooping going on well into the 1970's. The academic world was awash in the jittering goings on at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York, and other such places, from which the likes of Charles Wuorinen's Pulitzer Prize winning Time's Encomium were produced. Don't get me wrong, a good bleep and the odd bloop now and again does a body good, but it is always a delight to discover composers such as Morton Subotnick who defy all clichés and head off into unknown territory. This 1994 release of two of Subotnick's earliest recorded compositions is, therefore, a rare treat. Oddly packaged as part of Wergo Music's Music with Computers series (no one had ever heard of Computer Music in 1967), are Silver Apples of the Moon, a composition originally commissioned and released by Nonesuch Records, and the mythically titled 1968 composition, The Wild Bull. Composed and recorded using the now rare, albeit famous, Buchla synthesizer (or Electric Music Box as its designer, Donald Buchla preferred to call it), these compositions display Subotnick's talent for creating a personalized electronic music that is at once challenging, haunting, kinetic, engaging, sad, contemplative and immanently engrossing. His music ranges from pensive to frantic in mood and even manages to swing a bit along the way (in Subotnick's inimitable style, of course). Those not prepared for Subotnick's unique voice may find these titles a bit dense, foreign even, but they are never overbearingly strident, even when they are engaged in the electronic music equivalent of hand-to-hand combat. Evoking simultaneously the Electronic Tonalities of Louis and Bebe Baron's unforgettable Forbidden Planet soundtrack from 1956, to the ancient wail of a Sumerian beast of mythology, one must not approach these recordings lightly. Do not expect any Switched on Bach doodlings here, Subotnick and the instrument he helped design were never ones for imitation or interpretation. This is the real deal (with a little bleeping and blooping thrown in for good measure!). The recording itself was digitally restored and remixed by Michael Hoenig, himself an electronic musician of the 1970's German school, ala Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, and is crisp and clean. Missing, perhaps, is a touch of the warm mystery of the original vinyl pressings; however, these recordings are essentially faithful to the originals. Highly recommended for the musically adventurous."
Still Original after 30 Years
Robert Tavis | Highland Village, Texas USA | 09/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember being in the Electric Circus in NY during the late sixties or early seventies and having heard the wonderful music of Morton Subotnick. He had a number of speakers placed around the club and they throbbed with his pulsating electronic rhythms. This CD captures the essence of that music and has great historical significance in the chronology of electronic music. Unlike other composers Subotnick managed to create organic music from very inorganic synthetic timbres. Since he departed from the popular trend to use the Moog synthesizer and instead chose more esoteric ones developed by Donald Buchla I think he managed to achieve a completely fresh approach to electronic music composition. In the early seventies there was a branch of synthesizer musicians who wanted the instrument to imitate the sound of natural acoustic instruments. Walter (Wendy) Carlos at that time was making significant impact with Switched on Bach and there was a flurry of other composers hopping on this particular band wagon. Subotnick, however, chose another path. Because of the nature of the Buchla synthesizers I think the blend of musical vision and instrumentation has never been more fully realized than in the recordings on this CD. Electronic music has had the stigma of being gimmicky and its introduction into mainstream music was done with some awkwardness and a great deal of rejection. Most musicians and composers realized the potential but few knew exactly how to tame this new medium. Subotnick was one of a small handful who fortunately did understand the medium. In the compositions of Subotnick, the synthesizer is no longer a gimmick but a fully mature instrument that deftly underpins the power of his music. He uses the instrument to craft new tonalities, timbres and rhyhmic structures that probably would have intrigued Varese had he lived to hear them. The fact that the music itself is almost tribal adds interesting counterpoint and tension to such primitive energy being created via the means of high techology.I owned both of these compositions when they were orginally introduced on vinyl by Nonesuch. Needless to say, I still have the originals but am very grateful to be able to listen to these wonderful compositions again without all the scratch noise. I highly recommend this CD to anyone interested in totally innovative music executed to a high state of perfection."
Timeless music from the stone age of electronica
Victor Eijkhout | Knoxville, TN USA | 09/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By notions of electronic music, this album is about as old as they come. And amazingly these pretty primitive sounds don't sound dated at all. How did Subotnick know to avoid the cliches that would plague most later synthesizer music? Maybe it's rather that most pop musicians -- who came to define synthesizer music -- didn't listen to atonal and arythmic bloops and bleeps, so they never picked up on these textures. Their loss. This music is still sparklingly original. Required listening."