Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ougenweide - 1973 - Ougenweide



01. Nieman kan mit Gerten 2:26
02. Es stunt ein frouwe alleine 4:50
03. Ouwe 2:29
04. Der Fuchs 5:25
05. Eilenau 1:28
06. Ougenweide 6:08
07. Swa gouter hande wurzen sint 3:19
08. Der Sohn der Näherin 3:10
09. Sarod 2:45
10. Statement zur Lage der ganzen Musica 1:05
11. Es fur ein pawr gen holcz 1:36

Olaf Casalich/ vocals, congas, marcas, tabla
Renee Kollmorgen/vocals, percussions, triangle
Brigitte Blunck/ vocals, percussions
Wolfgang v. Henko/ guitars
Stefan Wulff:Harmonium, bass
Frank Wulff:Bouzouki, Sitar
Jürgen Isenbart: Xylophon, Percussion
Ulle: back up vocals
Achim Reichel:Fuzz-Bass

This group started from Hamburg and has roots in the mid-60's in the City Preachers and the Fabs, but Ougenweide was really born in 69 with the break-up of the latter. Their folk rock music is a based on their discovery of Pentangle's Basket Of Light and Fairport's Liege & Lief crossed with ISB's tendency to use eastern instruments, but not the acid vocals. They chose to not only sing in German, but also to use older Middle High German, which gave them an authentic feel, especially in their Northern regions, where Platte Deutsch ruled (Low German dialects), writing their own texts, with the arrival of literature student Olaf Casalich. Even their name comes from a 12th century poet Von Reuenthal, meaning "feast for the eyes". The group is built around the Wulff brothers (bassist and multi-instrumentalist), the afore-mentioned Casalich (vocals and percussions), the guitarist Von Henko and other percussionist Isenbart, but also boasts two female singers, Blunck and Kollmorgen. Ougenweide, unlike other German Folk Prog groups like Emtidi, W&W, Holderlin and Broselmachine did not try to rock up their sound, even if they used some electric instruments.
The debut album (which has recently been released in a different recording session under the name Wol Mich Der Stunde compilation of 2004 with Steinbeck in the fold) was produced by icon Achim Reichel and boasts short songs that seem to come out of the traditional folk rock. A few of the tracks seem to be the equivalent of English folk (unless these were common to both cultures. Nieman Kan Mit Gerten, Der Fuchs (The Fox) and the instrumental Sarod certainly are very similar and were obviously strongly influenced by it (we are in 73 and FC is now an old band). While the bulk of the material was written by the group, but also a large part of their repertoire was made from trad medieval folk, one thing is certain: they sounded authentic and their virtuoso playing was very convincing (especially electric bassist Stefan Wulff, being a big part of their sound) and they quickly became a reference in their country. The album flows very smoothly until the second last track, which is a rather abnormal spoken intro for the demented closing track. Clearly the group resembling best Ougenweide was France's Malicorne.

Although historically speaking Ougenweide was not really groundbreaking, they were one of the more authentic when it came to medieval folk (along with Gryphon, Malicorne and their countrymen Parzival) and certainly never tried to become commercial. While this debut is more trad UK folk, it is not the group's most representative, but certainly an essential album, for anyone into this genre of music.

Offenbach - 1979 - En Fusion

En Fusion

01. Ma patrie est à terre (2:42)
02. Faut que j'me pousse (5:04)
03. Teddy (3:27)
04. Caline de blues (7:02)
05. A l'envers (3:42)
06. Promenade sur Mars (4:17)
07. Le blues me guette (2:59)
08. L'hymne à l'amour (5:58)

- Gerry Boulet / Vocals, guitar, organ
- John McGale / Guitars
- Robert Harrison / Drums
- Jean Gravel / Guitar
- Breen Leboeuf / Bass

 This was a long-standing wish of Gerry Boulet as he was friendly with Vic Vogel and they'd played some gigs together. As the title suggest, this is the fusion of Offenbach with the Vic Vogel Big Band and the resulting is one hell of a slice of brass-rock. Recorded live At the St Denis theatre late March 79, the single-disc album presented only a part of the show, leaving the rest in a drawer. That particular drawer got raided in the mid-90's and the bottom-of-drawer tapes published in the double boxset that was released by BMG.
Actually it is definitely more of an Offenbach formation that was annexing the VVBB as its horn section, but the resulting repertoire cannot be considered as a "live best-of with brass", even if obviously a lot of the tracks are the better-known tracks with a "horn-ier" twist (I didn't say twàt ;o)p)))), such as their anthemic Caline De Blues re-arranged for the occasion. BTW, they threw in a four-female back-up vocal section as well, that included the well-known Christiane Robicheaux for better effect. Starting with the wild-paced Ma Patrie Est A Terre (my homeland lays on the ground), most likely referring to up-coming Sovereignty issue referendum, the group soon changes pace with Boulet's slow Faut Que J'me Pousse, where Gerry starts alone on piano, with Gravel soon in with discreet guitar wails, the music slowly gathers horns, bass, drums and then more horns, to end with everyone (that's 22 people) joining in by the end. Emotional, especially with Gravel's splendid guitar and Boulet resembling Procol's Gary Brooker.

Some tracks were probably played for the first time in a while that night, like 100 MPH Teddy or the 105 MPH A L'Envers, where the VVBB acts mostly as an enhancer with wild responses or superb underlining lo-brass lines, or even killer trumpet or sax solo. Although most of these tracks don't ooze "prog", there is plenty of drama and interplay, much like in the batter Chicago moments. Promenade Sur Mazrs is one of four tracks featured from their Tabarnac album, including the Piaf cover Hymne A L'Amour, not a wise choice, because breaking up the ambiance and by its overly-syrupy arrangements.

The tracks that were left off the original album are generally jazzier, like the Ellington homage Duke's Shuffle - the only VVBB track, along with Georgia on My Mind, which will be released in a studio version by Offenbach later on. These tracks are in general less biting, even though Gravel's guitar pulls a few mean solos (notably on Sad Song) and the horn arrangements arte very tasty.

What's amazing is that by 79, this type of music was still being released: organ-driven brass rock. Totally anachronistic, but in a few months, the prog scene of La Belle Province will get swept from the map. In the meantime, if you love a large brassy fairly conventional sound, this is exactly what you're searching for.

Offenbach - 1978 - Traversion



01. Je l'sais bien (4:57)
02. Deux autres bières (3:25)
03. Les eaux qui dorment    (3:21)
04. Mes blues passent pu dans' porte (4:10)
05. Je chante comme un coyote (5:18)
06. Femme qui s'en va (2:57)
07. Bye bye (3:39)
08. Quand les hommes vivrons d'amour (3:49)
09. J'ai l'rock and roll pis toé (3:22)
10. Ayoye (6:16)

-Gerry Boulet / organ, piano, vocals
-Jean Gravel / guitars, vocals
-Breen LeBoeuf / bass, vocals
-John McGale / guitars, flute, vocals
-Pierre Ringuet / drums
-Richard Beaudet / sax

After the great rift of Offenbach that saw Lamothe and drummer Belval leave to join forces with former co-leader Pierre Harel another group, the band managed to survive with ever- changing personnel and had to wait almost two years to return to the studio with a (more or less) stabilized line-up. Boulet is now the only original member with guitarist Jean Gravel, the new line-up is featuring a second guitarist John McGale, who also plays the flute and will provide a few tracks. New bassist LeBoeuf will soon become the glue to the new line- up, compromising and arranging the almost-finished tracks. But the group had lost all of its momentum at home with the erratic Never Too Tender, and they were facing an uphill battle in a Quebec scene filled with Harmonium, Beau Dommage, Maneige, Octobre, et many more. Even worse, we are in 79 and fairly soon the local prog scene will be wiped out by the disco craze (La Belle Province reacted a little late to it, but massively), but this album will score well with the public, who appreciate the texts of the new lyricist Pierre Huet.
The album is a succession of classic Offenbach tracks that will get not only major airplay on the radios, but most of them will the core of their concerts for years to come. Boulet's joual lyrics, sung ala Robert Charlebois or Pierre Flynn (of the rival group Octobre) crossed with a tad of Eddy Mitchell, are of course a major feature of the album, but his Hammond B- 3 is still the other audible landmark in years when its appeal was definitely on the wane. Gravel's guitar shines in passages, but mostly as a solo instrument (the solo in Coyote or the opening Ayoye) and in the good opening track Je Le Sais Bien. In some ways their sound is still more of an early 70's than a late 70's, partly due to Boulet's excellent organ. Generally the album is a short blues-derived hard rock tunes, devoid of much adventures or experiments, but still having some instrumental bravura, when the occasion arises (not enough to my taste) and the odd flute (in Deux Autres Bieres) provide short hard'ons for progheads.

Despite the local public's wariness, especially with some Anglophones in the band, Offenbah created the album that the Québecois public wanted to hear, and the group will find healthy sales and a a local fame. In fact, they will be the last of the 70's group to live well, surviving until 85 and rake in many awards of all kinds, but that's another story. This is an overtly commercial album and a good mastery of French might come in handy, but obligatory, because the blues-derived organ-driven hard rock is quite accessible (but certainly not groundbreaking) and certainly held up with the AOR "kings" of the era. Despite it's overt commercial nature, this is a classic Québecois album that still might interest the prospective proghead.

Offenbach - 1977 - Offenbach


01. Victoire d'amour
02. La Voix que j'ai
03. Rêve à Lachute
04. À l'envers
05. Dominus Vobiscum
06. Chu' un rocker
07. Le Blues me guette
08. Le Condamné à mort
09. La Jeune lune

-Gerry Boulet / keyboard, vocals;
-Jean Gravel / guitars
-Michel Lamothe / bass
-Roger Belval / drums

After their first English-sung album, Offenbach tried to make themselves forgotten to their Quebec public for this small "treason" (Quebec was in the throes of the sovereignty crisis), and they came back with a strong concise album that was very "rock-minded" and showed them in a down-to-earth and back-in-business form, but still inventive enough to please some progheads. The album was released on a major label (A&M) and featured a comic artwork, as if to show that they should not be taken too seriously.
Opening on rockers like Victoire d'Amour (don't be fooled by the meaningless title and lyrics) or on bluesier Voix Que j'ai (Boulet is now the sole singer since Harel's departure, but his voice remains close to his former acolyte), the album's songs are mostly short and fairly conventional in the chorus-verse structure, but there is some shining instrumental interventions, not least the sometimes searing & soaring guitar, but Boulet's always enthralling Hammond-playing, a good flute intervention on the Rêve A Lachute. Clearly the album's highlight (for progheads) will be A L'Envers with its excellent interplay between all members, while Dominus Vobiscum can be seen as a disappointment, as it seems to hint at the St Chrone De Neant era, but soon becomes a normal rocker with a good violin (more of a fiddle) solo in the middle.

The flipside opens on the all-time Quebec rocker song than a mid-tempo blues) and mostly repeats the formula of its opposite face, with sizzling guitar breaks (Blues), good (sometimes brilliant) instrumental interplay on the slow-starting Condamné A Mort (with its violin in the background and sizzling guitar) and on the second-best Jeune Lune. Not exactly the type of album I'd recommend for a proghead to start exploring this band's oeuvre, but this is a crowd favourite and it includes a few concert standouts and fan classic tracks. Still a few good moments on this slice of wax.

Offenbach - 1976 - Never Too Tender

Never Too Tender

01. Never too tender
02. Running away
03. Balls and rods
04. Edgar
05. Love invain
06. Sad song
07. Every day I get the blues
08. High down

-Gerry Boulet / keyboard, vocals
-Jean Gravel / guitars
-Michel Lamothe / bass
-Roger Belval / drums

The fourth studio album of the Canadian band OFFENBACH "Never To Tender", is a work much closer of the hard/blues?psych in the style of bands of the beginning of the seventies as for instance ALMANN BROTHERS etc... than properly progressive . To illustrate what say, I can begin for the track 1 "Never to Tender" that reminded me a lot some passages of the American band GOODTHUNDER or still the track 8 "High Down" that sent me to the characteristic hard/blues in JOHNNY WINTER or even FOGHAT style . Actually the only track that really approaches to the heavy-prog in URIAH HEEP'S line, is the track 4 "Edgar" with approximately 2 min hammond-organ introduction and a guitar solo that has as "backdrop" a "nervous" bass/drums section and the mellotron attendance making the choir sound.

"Never too tender". What a riff! A track I can play continuously the whole day (like, for example, "Don't dilute the water", by Budgie. My brain has stored these two tracks in the same cluster. Strange, isn't it ?

Offenbach - 1974 - Tabarnac


01. Quoi quoi (3:44)
02. Ether (5:57)
03. Dimanche blues (8:54)
04. Habitant chien blanc (2:26)
05. Teddy (8:02)
06. Promenade sur Mars (4:47)
07. Granby (8:33)
08. Marylin (7:00)
09. Wezo (5:30)
10. Ma patrie est à terre (4:00)
11. Pourquoi j't'icitte (5:12)
12. Québec Rock(3:37)
13. Jam (11:33)
14. L'hymne à l'amour (6:32)
15. Moody Calvaire Moody
16. Pourquoi J?Ticitte
17. Marylin/Wezo/Rirolarma
18. Ma Partie Est a Terre
19. Be-Bop-A-Lula

Gerry Boulet: keyboard, vocals, guitar, sax, flute
Jean Gravel: guitars
Michel Lamothe: bass
Roger "wezo" Belval: drums

This is more or less the soundtrack of the film made of the group's French and European tour in early 74.

After doing the St Chrone mass, the group was approached by a French movie director that would convince the group to try its chance in France, tour the country, make an album and at the same time, he would film the band in order to make a full-blown movie. After the St Chrone shooting, the Bulldozer movie (still in the making), this was yet another video project. So the band headed across the pond and toured and partied and played and?. Lived the RnR life on film and this double album is a bit the result of that. With this minimalist but poignant claws artwork, this double album is probably one of the first French-speaking rockumentary, and it's filled with spoken or other interludes that are of little interest, unless you're one of Offenbach's unconditional fans. Since the movie's never received a commercial release, it's obviously the double disc release that will be reviewed.
Before the release of Tabarnac, the Bulldozer movie was finally finished and ready to release (along with the disc), prompting Pierre Harel (this was mostly his project) to come back to Quebec, while the rest of the band toured France and Europe, thus widening further still the gap (rift) between the multi-functional singer and the band. So the band is reduced to a quartet by the time they recorded and released this album, but the split was most likely not effective yet.

The album' opening side starts on the Quoi rocker, then on a Hammond orgy of Ether than a lengthy and fiery blues, to finish on another organ-driven rocker. Teddy opens up the side B and offers a sizzling fast-tempoed 8-mins improvised spacey beast, before paying homage to the Quebec town of Granby on Deep Purplish mode. Avery fine mainly-instrumental version of Marylin opens side C with a lengthy solo section (including the drum solo from Wezo) and two shorter tracks, both quite pleasant to undemanding prog ears. The Quebec rocker opens side D, with a spacey-psychy Jam following it, showing that Offenbach could also improvise nicely. They finish up this double set on slow organ-drenched bluesy hymn to love and rock.

Offenbach - 1973 - Bulldozer


01. Bulldozer (4:40)
02. Hey Boss (4:34)
03. Magie rouge (4:07)
04. Câline de doux blues (5:02)
05. Solange tabarnac (2:27)
06. Marche de peanut (2:08)
07. Bataille (2:46)
08. Bulldozer thème (3:03)
09. Qu'est-ce qui te prend (2:47)
10. S.O.S. (3:14)
11. Ah comme on s'ennuie (3:09)
12. Faut que j'me pousse (2:38)
13. Adios amor (3:19)
14. S.O.S. (alternate take) (3:23) *
15. Ah comme on s'ennuie (extended version) (4:12) *

-Gérry Boulet / keyboard, saxophone, vocals
-Pierre Harel / keyboard, vocals
-Jean Gravel / guitars
-Michel Lamothe / bass
-Roger Belval / drums
-Mouffe / vocals (10,14)
-La Famille Savard / vocals (13)

Releases information
LP Barclay 80182 (1973)
CD ProgQuébec MPM29 (2008) with 2 bonus tracks (*)

Although their third release, this album can be considered their debut album/ indeed they started the music for the Bulldozer film soundtrack in 71, before their first album (Offenbach Soap opera) was released, but the project got into a tangled mess and when it was finally settled, the group had released two albums. So the group was touring France when the Film was finally ready for its opening upon Valentine's day in 74, the album being released the same day. It didn't really get promoted, because only singer/pianist Harel had made the trip (for budget reasons) from across the Atlantic?. And he didn't rejoin the rest of the troops. So Offenbach was a double singing-keyboardist fronted group since Pierre Harel (mostly piano) joined them, his alter-ego being Gerry Boulet (organ & sax). Gerry's brother Dennis had given up the drum stool and was replaced by the frightening-looking Belval.

Opening the A-side is the movie and title track (sung version), and you'd think you're almost in a rocker Spaghetti-Western with Moricone writing on acid. The organ-dominated track feature choirs, underlining Harel's distinctive Joual-French vocals. A good start, even if the overall sound is not the greatest. Hey Boss is a great double piano piece with the same background choirs and is a small tour-de-force in itself. Magie Rouge is a great instrumental, sometimes reminiscent of the Yardbirds line-up of Renaissance, but with a great guitarist. The piano provides a solemn touch that Gravel's guitar rips iconoclastically to shreds. Great stuff. Next is a remake of Caline de Blues, their first hit in Quebec, and it overstays its welcome. The Peanut track and its Tabarnac intro is another example of how deadly the group was. Bataille starts shakily (difficult pick up-point from the film's soundtrack, I guess) with Boulet wailing on sax, but it doesn't go anywhere.

The same movie theme opens the flipside of its soundtrack, but this time it is the instrumental version without choirs or scats, but sax dubbing, followed by a fast drum solo and later in SOS, the group clams down to a mid-tempo guitar/piano fronted piece over Mouffe (the actress from the film) scats and sings. Harel comes back, overpowering the group with his over-done vocals in Comme On S'Ennuie. Faut que J'me Pousse is another Harel treack where he overpowers the group, but then again it was his film?. Whether this was on the film or not, the closing Adios Amor, subtitled Famille Savard is an awful- sounding and cheesy tune that is sticking out from an uneven album. There are two bonus tracks at the end, both alternate takes from the original soundtrack, but they're not really adding much to the album's overall value, except that it won't close on the dreaded Adios track anymore.

I suppose that seeing the movie would actually help understanding the album, even if the most brilliant moments have no need of picture. I doubt that this is the kind of movie you'll find easily, and certainly not easier than the other Offenbach film that Faraldo was realizing around the band in its French tour. It would be nice if both could one day be committed onto one DVD.

Offenbach - 1973 - Saint-Chrone De Neant

Saint-Chrone De Neant

01. Chacone en Sol majeur (4:47)
02. Pax Vobiscum (11:05)
03. Kyrie (5:22)
04. Oremus (prière) (0:49) *
05. Finale d'Edgar (1:01) *
06. Dans la chaire (sermon) (3:19) *
07. Requiem (2:39)
08. Dies Irae (4:50)
09. Fils de lumière (évangile) (2:37) *
10. Fils de lumière (4:36) *
11. Domine Jesus Christe (5:34)
12. Cum Traderetur/Memento (7:43)
13. La Marche de Peanut (3:52) *
14. Rirolarma (4:58)
15. Faut que j'me pousse (5:03) *

-Gérald Boulet / organ, voice, synth
-Pierre Harel / organ, voice, synth
-Jean Gravel / guitars
-Michel Lamothe / bass
-Roger Belval / drums
-Yvon Hubert / orateur
-Pierre-Yves Asselin / grand organ

Releases information
LP Barclay 80153 (1973)
CD ProgQuébec MPM28 (2008) with 7 bonus tracks (*)

 Despite having released their debut album, called Offenbach Soap Opera, it didn't create any momentum; the band shortened its name to Offenbach. Through a series of event, the group finally got their break and received the OK for doing a rendition of La Messe Des Morts in their own terms in the Basilique De Montreal and later in other prestigious places in front of big crowds and rave reviews, which eventually lead them over to France via Falaldo's project. This was the group's big break and I understand that the show/concert was filmed as well, and broadcasted live by Montreal radio legend CHOM FM. The resulting album was released soon after, but only chosen parts of the mass were on the vinyl, for time restriction reasons. The ProgQuebec reissue not only reinstates all of the missing parts of the mass (including the non-musical bits), but adds the few unrelated non- mass tracks that were played as encores.
Named after a dubious play on words about Synchronization, Saint-Chrone De Neant is a rock mass, a bit like the Electric Prunes recorded back in 68 and Os Mundi will do the following year (73) in Berlin. The album was recorded live, Nov 30 in front of 3000 spectators inside the Basilique and another 2000 that couldn't get inside and were probably freezing their nuts off. (This writer would land a three months later in Montreal for his North Americans adventures). Those reading me for a while know that although fiercely atheist with a slight pagan side for provocation purposes, you should think that I would hate such a concept, bit from the EP, OM or Offenbach. Well guess again, the churches allowed many liberties during and outside the mass throughout that magic 70's decade. Don't get me wrong here: I'm not a huge fan either of such projects (that included a large choir in this case and the church organ), but it makes for pleasant listen if taken lightly and the group is talented enough to carry it out with credibility. Despite this project being Harel's baby, Gerry boulet and guitarist Gravel contribute quite a bit to the compositions

One of the reasons behind this successful but risky concept is that the Baslique's excellent aural capacities were used to full effect (the drums sound is absolutely perfect), and after a 5-mins Chaconne (from Couperin) played on the church organ by group buddy Asselin, the group launches slowly in an 11-mins Pax Vobiscum with a lengthy Hammond intro, slowly segueing to choirs under the demented drum rolls of Belval and ending in a cheesy church theme, aimed at softening the heart and the wallet's leather of the Christians fidels. The payers and religious monologue are not the most entertaining, but they're short enough, in three languages (Latin, French and English) and are always good for a laugh, or at least a chuckle. The mass goes on with many instrumental passages that allow for solos and individual bravura moments and many joys, much more than the few cringing more religious moments, making me wonder if and how much the clergy agreed. Fils De Lumière has an Ange dramatic and sonic quality with a tad of Sabbath in the guitar/bass/drum ending. After the "normal" mass, the group was called back for an encore and played Peanut (from the Bulldozer project) and the crowd requesting more, Rirolarma (pun intended >> laughing to tears) and J'me Pousse were performed, the latter despite a failing PA system, as you'll hear,

This "amazing" album gave Offenbach a push for an international career that very few Quebecois rock group would have (not speaking of singer/songwriter or divas, here) and they would head for Europe for the next two years, not even waiting for Bulldozer to finally gets its release. The group will play on until the mid-80's; which unique in Quebecois prog groups, although by then, there wasn't much prog left in the sound. This reissue will probably solve many Christian progheads about their Sunday morning choice of music. They might want to alternate it with Os Mundi and Electric prunes. Certainly worth throwing an, ear on it, but I'm sure this will be close to an essential piece on your shelves? it certainly is in regards to Quebec's prog boom.

Offenbach - 1972 - Soap Opera

Soap Opera

01. Ayoye
02. Bulldozer
03. Câline de blues
04. Kadrill
05. High but... low
06. Mourir d'amour
07. Moody calvaire moody
08. No money no candy
09. Faut que je me pousse

-Gerry Boulet / vocals, keyboards
-Jean Gravel / guitars
-Pierre Harel / vocals, congas
-Michel Lamothe / bass, vocals
-Denis Boulet / drums
-Marcel Beauchamp / piano
-Stéphane Venne / piano

Offenbach emerged in 1970 from the transformation of various bands throughout the 60?s, the last being "LES GANTS BLANCS" lead by the Boulet brothers who were then inspired by the psychedelia of the times and artists like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. The lineup is then comprised of Gerry Boulet (keyboard & vocals), Jean Johnny Gravel (guitars), Michel "Willie" Lamothe Jr (bass) and Denis Boulet, who left the band after the first record to be replaced on drums by Roger (Wézo) Belval. That year they meet with musician, poet and filmmaker Pierre Harel whom they integrated to the band as singer and author, and would then release the soundtrack to his movie "Bulldozer" in 1973.

The first LP came in 1971, "Offenbach Soap Opera" and became one of the first "rock" albums with songs in French coming out of Quebec. But with scarce success, the band searching for a way to gain attention, Pierre Harel proposes they present a "Mass for the Dead" at the St-Joseph Oratory in Montreal. The project is surprisingly accepted by the religious authorities and the Mass is presented November 30th 1972, attracting 5000 people to an eclectic performance of rock mixed with liturgical Gregorian chants recorded on a 16 track and released in 1973 as "Saint-Chrône-de-Néant". They spent most of the next couple of years in France touring and filming a documentary of the band called "Tabarnac", also released as a double LP with a certain success. Pierre Harel then left the band and OFFENBACH came back to Québec to find a new French music scene dominated by bands like HARMONIUM and BEAU DOMMAGE. The following albums grow more and more mainstream, although their sound can be likened to fellow Quebecois group OCTOBRE in La Maudite Machine.

In 1976 they released their first LP completely in English "Never Too Tender". After a few more lineup changes and 2 more albums in French they won a Felix Award in 1979 for best rock album of the year with "Traversion" and were joined by the Vic Vogel Big Band the same year for a tour of Québec from which the Theatre St-Denis performance was recorded and issued the next year as "Offenbach En Fusion". In 1980 they were subsequently awarded 3 more Felix Awards, for best rock album, best group of the year and best show for being the first Québecois band to headline the Montreal Forum.

Morton Subotnick - 1981 - Axolotl / The Wild Beasts

Morton Subotnick
Axolotl / The Wild Beasts

01. Axolotl
02. The Wild Beasts

Piano – Virko Baley
Trombone – Miles Anderson
Cello – Joel Krosnick

Side A: Recorded May 1981 at Columbia Recording Studio "B", New York
Side B: Recorded March, 1981 at Evergreen Studios, Burbank (California, USA).

Axolotl (composed 1981) commissioned and premiered by Joel Krosnick at the Library of Congress (Washington, USA), February 13, 1981.
The Wild Beasts (composed 1978) commissioned by Miles Anderson. Premiered by Miles Anderson & Virko Baley at the Contemporary Music Festival, Valencia (California, USA), March, 1978.

Morton Subotnick - 1980 - A Sky Of Cloudless Sulphur / After The Butterfly

Morton Subotnick 
A Sky Of Cloudless Sulphur / After The Butterfly

01. A Sky Of Cloudless Sulphur    14:44
02. After The Butterfly    18:19

Cello – Alan K. Bartholemew (tracks: B), Dane Richards Little (tracks: B)
Clarinet – James D. Rohrig (tracks: B), William Edward Powell (tracks: B)
Percussion – Marvin B. Gordy III (tracks: B)
Synthesizer – Morton Subotnick (tracks: A)
Trombone – Jay Charles Bulen (tracks: B), Toby L. Holmes (tracks: B)
Trumpet – Mario Guarneri (tracks: B)

A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur is a purely electronic work. After the Butterfly is a concerto-like work for trumpet, instrumental ensemble, and "ghost" electronics.
More minimalist goodness, this time from Morton Subotnick, but a much healthier cassette this time, thank heaven! I know almost nothing about this tape except what the sleeve tells me, which is... almost nothing.

Morton Subotnick - 1976 - Until Spring

Morton Subotnick 
Until Spring

01. Beginning    14:59
02. Conclusion    14:20

Composed By Morton Subotnick

Virtuoso synthesized textures full of delicious percussive timbres. Pulsing moments of exhilaration
are allowed to stand out via juxtaposition with long, quiet, menacing passages. I think this is Subotnick’s most essential work of the 70's

Morton Subotnick - 1974 - 4 Butterflies

Morton Subotnick
4 Butterflies

01. Butterfly No. 1    7:47
02. Interlude    1:23
03. Butterfly No. 2    9:32
04. Butterfly No. 3    7:23
05. Interlude    1:40
06. Butterfly No. 4    7:07

Written-By, Performer, Synthesizer [The Electric Music Box], Liner Notes – Morton Subotnick
Created by Morton Subotnick on the Electric Music Box

The way Subotnick and others operating in the very same niche ‘related’ to that heritage, turned their music into a special blend of electronic music. Whereby, the complexity of atonal rationalities, rather than central, worked as a coaxial influence, which was pragmatically acknowledge, but with which Subotnick would not conceptually clinch. It was a welcomed ‘visitor’, who would be invited in, eat and drink but with whom, bizarrely enough, one would neither engage in conversation nor lock eyes with.

One the conspicuous outcome of such an attitude was an atonal coated naïveté that makes Morton’s electro-butterflies exceedingly cute, and the patterns of their erratic sonic flights mostly charming. What the butterflies as compositions lack in insight -- which could definitely have been reinvigorated had Subotnik engaged in explicit dialogue with atonality – they excel in aural lightness and candid inconsistencies that only increase their soothing, colourful (not to be confounded with chromatic) spell.

Last but not least, and never in detriment to Subotnick’s “Silver Apples of the Moon”, of which I am a fan, I do consider the latter a prelude to “4 Butterflies”. Then again, let them electric insects dream about and feast on old lunar apples. Meanwhile we enjoy the noise they make while daydreaming…

Morton Subotnick - 1971 - Sidewinder

Morton Subotnick 

01. Sidewinder (Part I)   
02. Sidewinder (Part II)   

Written & Performed by – Morton Subotnick
Created by Morton Subotnick on the Electric Music Box

Sounds can evoke both the familiar and the unfamiliar. The familiar can be altered or reinvented into new forms. There is no clear line here between the referential and non-referential. Sounds can suggest something of the real world without actually being about a particular object, place, or personality. In Morton Subotnick’s imagination, electronic music gained accessibility and playfulness, a potential source of interest and joy for listeners of any age or musical experience, like creative cartooning, painting on a canvas, or taking a trip to a “please touch” museum. “Hold” a sound in your hands, stretch it, change it coloration at will, use it create a kind of language, and allow it to unfold in time.

The early works of Subotnick were among my guilty pleasures as a high school senior. At the same time, I had begun to listen to Stockhausen’s Hymnen (1966-67) and Mantra (1970) and some of the Columbia Princeton recordings. I appreciated the rigor and austerity of these works, but it was Subotnick’s Touch (1969) and Sidewinder (1970/71) that provided aesthetic enjoyment. The music was alive, organic in its flowing movement, and—particularly appealing to me—playful. The sounds were so distinctly electronic, the rhythms lively and dynamic, the textures continually unfolding, and the music steadily self-revealing. The music reflected a refreshing aesthetic sensibility—and also an innovative means of making music.

Enter the Buchla!

When Subotnick (with Ramon Sender) commissioned Donald Buchla to design what became the Buchla Box, his goal was an artist-friendly compositional tool that didn’t depend upon recorded sound. Invented in the 1930s, the tape recorder had helped spawn a new way to make music. In the early 1950s, composers in France, Argentina, Germany, Japan, the United States, and other countries were beginning to assemble collections of recorded sounds, cutting and splicing bits of tape, sometimes played backwards or at different speeds. Radio stations—equipped with oscillators, filters, amplifiers, and simple audio test equipment—became workshops for composers to create works using electronically generated and processed sounds.

In practice, these approaches were simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting due to the long, arduous process. Subotnick, working at the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early 1960s, sought to find a new and more intuitive means of generating and assembling electronic sounds into compositions. Subotnick’s idea was to create something akin to a real-time sonic painting canvas, rather than an electronic musical instrument. The process of its development by Don Buchla, initially a spinning light wheel to create waveforms and then a modular system with integrated circuits, is described in the Spring 2012 issue of Computer Music Journal.

Buchla’s Series 100 (“The Modular Electronic Music System,” conceptualized by Subotnick as the “Music Easel” and later known as the “Buchla Electric Music Box,” “Buchla Box,” or more commonly “the Buchla”) applied the principle of voltage control to shape sound and light, audio and visual media alike. Among its features were a pressure sensitive touch plate (not a keyboard) and a sequencer, each sending voltages that would control frequency, filter parameters, amplitude, and other parameters depending upon the choice of module. Simultaneously in Trumansburg, New York, a few hours northwest of New York City, Robert Moog was at work designing what he indeed saw as a modular electronic musical instrument, from the start featuring a keyboard. (There is a detailed chronology of Buchla’s various developments on the website for Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments .)

Subotnick’s goal was to devise a system that had no inherent bias based upon existing models of musical instruments. Speaking as the conceptual thinker behind the Buchla, in an interview with the author, Subotnick recalls:

It was my idea to create—I didn’t use this term, looking back on what I was thinking back then—a unique, expressive, gestural, analog computer. Something that was neutral so that everyone could make whatever they wanted. The neutrality was in the following form: if you look at the Moog, which was a year or so later, envelopes were thought of as amplitude envelopes, and they were associated with the voltage controlled amplifier that a tone would go through, and you would control whether it was a pizzicato or a sustained or whatever it was supposed to be. [He was] thinking of an [acoustical] instrument, and music.

My idea of an envelope was something that changed in time, voltages that changed in time. So Buchla’s idea then was to separate the voltage from the audio, make voltage something that was cheap and easy to use. So you could gang these up and use them for moving sounds across space. We used it for dimming lights. It didn’t matter what it was. Anything that changed in time was an envelope, but it was not associated with anything. It could be used … that’s the analog computer aspect of it. Everything was designed to stand alone, so you could interface anything with anything you wanted to interface with it.
The idea of voltage banks, “ganging them up,” was not part of the Buchla 100, as Subotnick recalls, “The banks didn’t come until I used it for a while. In fact, though, the idea was right, the implementation was too simple at first, not enough controls, both in and out. I was amazed at what we didn’t account for that Don and I began to understand. This got corrected in the Buchla 200.”

The Buchla prototype was ready for the 1964-1965 season, but was little used prior to Subotnick’s departure for New York in 1966. His theater piece Play 4 (1966) was the only work for the Buchla that Subotnick completed in San Francisco.

Subotnick in New York

Once in New York, Subotnick became one of two artists-in-residence at New York University’s School of the Arts. The position that initially brought him east was musical director for Lincoln Center Repertory Theater, but the position didn’t provide sufficient salary to support his family. Lincoln Center Rep director Herbert Blau spoke with Robert Corrigan, founding dean of New York University’s new School of the Arts (now the Tisch School of the Arts), resulting in the position at NYU. A composer/artist-in-residence would fill a gap in the curriculum, which at the time lacked a music component. Subotnick was joined by two artists-in-residence: first, kinetic sculptor Len Lye, and for the second academic year, visual artist Tony Martin who had been his colleague at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. Reunited in New York, Subotnick and Martin also collaborated in the development of the multimedia sound and light shows of the Electric Circus, a Greenwich Village discotheque.

Subotnick’s position was open-ended. New York University easily agreed to his main condition: an off-campus studio of his own to be built around the Buchla. A suite of studios was opened upstairs from the Bleecker Street Cinema in the center of Greenwich Village. This was a neighborhood of cafés and folk, rock, and jazz music venues. Notable artists living or performing in the neighborhood visited the studio, among them Andy Warhol associate Isabelle Collin Dufresne (Ultra Violet), members of the Grateful Dead, Lothar and the Hand People, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, and Angus MacLise, Maureen Tucker, and other figures connected with the Velvet Underground. Composers Toshi Ichiyanagi and—as one of Subotnick’s studio assistants Richard Friedman recalls—Steve Reich also stopped in.

Subotnick recollects: “I was really a celebrity in New York for a couple years and the studio became a famous underground thing that suddenly hit the news. People felt like they were part of something. It was a big moment in their lives and they’ve hung onto it in ways that I’ve forgotten. I moved along and kept being me. New York is the marketplace for the arts. It’s not a place where young people could easily experiment because anything you did took on an importance that would tend to squelch a kind of freethinking [and experimentation]. It was the whole scene that makes individuals capable of doing what they do… During that period, New York was really hot. Even if everything you did wasn’t out there for everyone to know, you imagined that it was.”

In retrospect, one of the most important features of Subotnick’s residency was his use of young studio assistants. This act of generosity sparked and nurtured the early composing careers of Maryanne Amacher, Rhys Chatham, Michael Czajkowski , Brian Fennelly, Ingram Marshall, Charlemagne Palestine, Eliane Radigue, David Rosenboom, Laurie Spiegel, and others, among them composer/instrument builder Serge Tcherepnin. But the artist residency didn’t last beyond its initial three-year funding.

Silver Apples of the Moon: Physical and Musical Gestures

The pedagogical legacy of the NYU studio is overshadowed by its status as the space where Mort Subotnick initiated his series of Buchla compositions. First to be completed in the Bleecker Street studio was Prelude 3 (1966) for piano and electronics. This was followed by the three works commissioned by major record companies, Silver Apples of the Moon (Nonesuch, 1967), The Wild Bull (Nonesuch, 1968), and Touch (Columbia, 1969). Subotnick subsequently left New York in the fall of 1969 to participate in the founding of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). There, he continued the series with Sidewinder (composed in 1970, released in 1971 on Columbia), Four Butterflies (Columbia, 1974), Until Spring (composed in 1975, released in 1976, on Columbia Odyssey), and an epilogue, A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur (Nonesuch, 1978).

“The idea for Silver Apples,” Subotnick recalls, “was a series of sonic gestural environments that would have no real connection [to one another]… I know it’s at this point a kind of cliché concept, but I saw it as a trip, in all senses of the word; a bunch of different trips. You’d have a whole set of experiences in the desert. Suddenly, a cold breeze comes in and you find yourself floating in a lake and you have that experience. Suddenly, you find yourself in a pristine stainless steel room, somewhere, that’s very shiny, and echo-y. So you have an experience. I didn’t take drugs, so I wasn’t tripping. But it was like that and I think that was part of the reason it had its flair. I was trying to imagine a hundred years from now—up until then, records were that, records of a performance. You would go to a performance. You wouldn’t listen in your living room… I was trying to imagine what that world of the future was going to be—when you could just listen, without orchestras, what kind of music would you listen to?”

In each of his Buchla works, Subotnick was particularly interested in translating physical gestures, such as finger motions, in real-time, to shape musical and other artistic gestures. “I think that there is always a physical element in gesture, whether you’re physically moving your body [or not]. I think gesture is a physical thing. More than that, it has to do with how things change in time. That’s the essential quality in it. And that became the cornerstone for everything I did. Back in the ‘50s, it was one of the reasons I moved into image, lights, dance, all of these things. I felt that music was the pure form of gesture, that it represented what I called energy shapes in time. I’m still working on it.” Touch sensitivity, on the Buchla touch plate, became an important element in Subotnick’s compositional approach.

To work on Silver Apples of the Moon, Subotnick created random processes on the Buchla, which he manually refined, to generate sequences of musical material. He selected material from these to construct the composition. Subotnick’s subsequent compositions completed on the Buchla at CalArts, however, drew upon a new, more directive approach to crafting gestures that he subsequently developed. Extensive documentation is available of the finale in the series, Until Spring. It was for the creation of Sidewinder that some of the key processes used in the composition and realization of that later work, particularly the use of control voltages, were developed. It was also just the second in the series, following Touch, to be realized in quadraphonic sound.

Sidewinder as a Fuller Realization of Subotnick’s Vision for the Buchla

To create Sidewinder, Morton Subotnick continued to generate musical materials, “sound events,” by running Buchla sequences. The principle of shaping gestures using a pressure sensitive touch plate continued. The innovation was Subotnick’s use of “control tracks,” information encoded and stored on tape, to direct the performance of these materials. The scheme was “designed to give the composer greater precision and the opportunity to add, modify, and rearrange his material without affecting the whole fabric.” Thus, “a composition could be laid out in time, envelope, overall amplitudes and spatial position. The details could be filled in later with far more modules on hand to control each individual event.” The implementation of control tracks originated with the first envelope follower, developed by Don Buchla while Subotnick was in New York. The composer recalls: “I called Don and asked for a way to use my voice to control voltages and he built me the envelope detector.”

By using control tracks the composer could design the patches, generate sounds, and subsequently adjust the tempo, attack and decay of notes and sounds. Subotnick would sing or hum into a microphone, which would be translated into performance information (control data) by the Buchla’s envelope follower. This module tracked the changing amplitude of his voice. Those shapes could be applied to changes over time of any musical parameter—not just amplitude. Subotnick would then set the assignment of sounds to multiple channels (to be placed in different speaker locations), and mix several tracks down to stereo, allowing him to add more tracks beyond the capabilities of a tape recorder of the day.

What I ended up with was deciding that one could compose segments of a piece of music with one’s voice and finger pressure in which you are only encoding the meaningfulness, and later you could do this one-minute section in one minute, or you could take five minutes to that same segment—but very quick. And then take three months to take little bits and pieces of it to see how you want that to be realized. So, for instance, I could take, with just my voice, I’m thinking now of an opening for something or a section [hums quietly, with most of his emphasis on articulation, not melody]. And then I could build an entire piece in this way. And not even be concerned with what it’s going to sound like. Just what I wanted it to feel. And so, I ended up doing that.

By the time of Sidewinder I had developed techniques, and by the last ones the techniques were quite complete, in which I would record my voice and finger pressure, put them on a track of tape and then decode them into control voltages and then break up a second of one of those, or three seconds of another one, and put it on leader [tape without information] and work on it for two weeks, not worry about the whole thing, just that. But when you take the leader out, you still have your performance, but you have perfected every sound along the way. And that’s how I ended up working.

Don [Buchla] developed the envelop detector for me to do this—the idea then was I could get another step where my voice would go to an envelop detector and a very high sine tone would then get recorded onto a tape, along with other sine tones of different pitches—I could get five or six. The early ones had my voice on the tape. The later ones had a sine tone that was moving with my voice. I don’t think that anyone, to this day, does anything like that. The ability to be able to do that in real time and break it up into little pieces is still something that I can’t do on the computer. You can come close, but you can’t really do that. You don’t have an equivalent to control voltage in a computer.”
These ideas are elaborated in Subotnick’s program notes for the CD re-issue of Until Spring. More recently, in 2008, after using new computer technologies to revisit Until Spring as a live performance work, Subotnick noted: “The problem was I didn’t have a big enough pallet that I could do everything at once. It had to be broken up into little pieces. Now we’ve got the pallet, so I do it in real time, using two microphones, and various kinds of other control devices I can work with.”

Speaking with Electronic Musician, Subotnick elaborated on how he made use of control tracks while creating Sidewinder: “I might have a vocal on one track [translated using an envelope detector into control voltages], and then I would be controlling oscillators through a comb filter so I could get three different pitches with my three fingers using touch-plate sensors. This way, I might end up with four sets of control voltages and two tracks of tape.”

Subotnick’s patches could also be replayed in a multiplicity of ways, adding lights, live performers, additional material, and in new order and spatial locations of speakers. Electronic compositions moved from the domain of sounds structured permanently to events that could be performed at will. The 2004 DVD presentation of Sidewinder (Mode) includes not only a surround sound version, but also a liquid light show created by Tony Martin to visualize the work. Subotnick’s work with control tracks culminated with Until Spring and A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur (1978), which the composer called his “favorite.”

Sidewinder: Conceptually and Musically

In his program notes, Subotnick described Sidewinder as “virtual grooves,” akin to the grooves of an LP, “in orbit throughout space.” They “would periodically pass through the room, like a solar system where different musics are planets and the room is the sun. Each orbit had a different length and timing and the music in each was a distinct entity. As the orbit allowed its music to pass through the room, the music would be heard and would be blended with whatever orbit was playing its music at the time.”

Personally, I prefer to think of this music as akin to a car road trip, new sights continually appearing on the horizon, blending in my imagination with what immediately surrounded the car and had recently passed, fading and giving way to the events waiting to come. My experience of the music is more in line with Subotnick’s own description of Silver Apples of the Moon: “I saw it as a trip, in all senses of the word.”

Sidewinder introduces us to a cast of “sonic characters.” Deviating from inherited traditions of electroacoustic music in which sounds are described in strictly sonic rather than referential terms, I have given them suggestive names. My rationale is tied to the magical way in which Subotnick’s sonorities exist somewhere between the referential and the abstract. The opening sound sequence, after which this work is named, is highly suggestive. Whether or not the work is in fact simply about the sounds themselves rather than forming a dramatic narrative, is beside the point. One can choose—or choose not—to read in a story line, or multiple story lines. I personally prefer not to do so, instead allowing my imagination to take me at each listening.

1. “Rattler” is a continuously changing sequence suggesting its title.
2. “Stoomp” consists of clearly articulated, individual resonant sound pulses.
3. “Rev” is a brief sequence of reverberant sounds, suggestive of a jungle environment. The structure of the sequence will be described within the narrative.
4. “Sound Mass” is a two-note sound cluster; one low frequency and one higher, a perfect fourth apart.
5. “Worble” is a sound cluster with a noise component, frequency modulated.
6. “Helicopter” is a complex sound approximating the title I’ve given it.
7. “Pluck” is a high frequency blend of plucked string and xylophone sonorities.
8. “Kalimba,” suggests a bent metal, twanging sound, beginning with a kalimba-like attack, heard at lower and middle frequencies. Subotnick himself thought of this sound as a jaw harp. It “was made before there was a Q filter. This was a patch that even Don Buchla was surprised by.”
9. “Pulsing Mass” consists of two layers: mid-frequency jaw harp/wah-wah-like filter shifting cluster, and a rumbling, lower frequency sound mass. The machine-like qualities of the sound masses contrast with some of the more organic sounds of this work, like “Rattler.”

The original recording of Sidewinder includes two versions of the piece. The basic patches used to create the sounds are the same, but each realization—how the actual sonorities are shaped and structured—is quite different. Listening closely to each version enables a greater appreciation for the flexibility Subotnick gained by using his control voltage system. Notice, for instance, the variety of ways a sound can be treated—with respect to articulation, tempo, spatialization, and other features—within different sequences.

The description offered here as a listening aid treats the version of Sidewinder originally released on the first side of the recording. The reader is encouraged to listen closely, first without the narrative provided here; listen again with these notes, and then listen to both versions relying solely on your own ears. My narrative description suggests one possible mode of analysis. This approach is supported by Subotnick’s own similarly personified characterization of one of the sounds on side two: “Wild Alley Cats… they are scary cries. I had a fear of cats in those days.”

The overarching structure of side one of Sidewinder, 14:40 in duration, is divided into two sections: part one, which for two and a half minutes features a sound suggestive of a rattle snake (after which the piece is named, albeit given after its completion) and then, after a twenty-four second transition, part two, just under twelve minutes long, in which sequences of plucked metallic sonorities weave in and out, juxtaposed at times with dense sound masses.

In version one, the opening sound “Rattler” continues throughout the opening two and a half minutes. There are two subunits of equal duration within that time period, first a series of contrasting sound events juxtaposed with “Rattler,” and then a subsection “Sound Mass” that begins at 1:13.

“Rattler” is heard alone for the opening half minute, joined at 0:37 by “Stoomp,” and then, at 1:06, a brief sequence “Rev” (reverberant). Within the contrasting sounds of “Stoomp,” we first hear the resonant “Stoomp” pulses, and then longer sustained, modulated sounds, at 0:41-0:45, followed by quiet white noise panning back and forth. At 1:00 the pulses briefly return. The brief sequence “Rev” (1:06-1:09) is organized into a four-beat measure. A high frequency shimmering sound functions as an appoggiatura, leading to a low pitch with sharp attack on count one—its shimmer sustains throughout the measure—followed by short duration higher-pitched sounds on beats 2, 3, and 4.

The subsection “Sound Mass,” heard while “Rattler” continues, consists of two parts, “2 note mass” and, at 1:48, “Worble.” The latter has two subsections, “Worble” (alone, with “Rattler”) and “Helicopter.” At 2:32, “Rattler” fades, as “Worble” and “Helicopter” continue for a brief transition, joined by third layer of sound mass, frequency modulated at gradually changing rates, as part one of Sidewinder concludes.

In part two, we are first introduced to “Pluck” and “Kalimba,” sonorities that define this section, beginning at 2:56. At 5:21 we hear a bass marimba-like sonority and, at 5:50, “Sound Mass” and “Helicopter” predominate and then fade. “Pulsing Mass” follows, at 6:45. There is a hint of “Kalimba” beginning at 7:10. Sustained high frequency sounds, with slow attack and short decay, join starting at 7:20.

The balance of the work is “Kalimba Plus,” beginning at 7:38. The first of three subsections joins the “Pulsing Mass” and “Kalimba” sounds, followed at 8:38 by “Lively Mix” and, at 11:21, “Delicate Kalimba.” The first subsection opens with a continuation of “Pulsing Mass.” There are two layers of massed sounds, with the mid-frequency filter-shifting cluster predominating, subtly changing, and growing much louder at 8:30. At 7:47, high frequency sounds return, slow attack, long sustain, and short decay. Low rumbles are heard at 8:00. Brief “Kalimba” sequences appear in 7:38-7:52, 8:02-8:10, 8:20-8:27, and 8:33-8:40, when they become lost in the mix.

“Lively Mix” begins at 8:54 with a dramatic increase in amplitude levels. The wah-wah filter-shift sound mass predominates, continually changing in shape and emphasis. “Kalimba” and marimba sound sequences join in the fray. At 9:30, the volume level and density of activity drops markedly. The wah-wah sound mass continues, quietly, with sequences of “Kalimba” and bass marimba sonorities continuing to unfold.

The concluding section, “Delicate Kalimba” begins at 11:21. The sound masses drop away, leaving on their own the kalimba-like sound and other sonorities, which suggest knocking on hollow wood. The sequences of activity rise and fall in volume and energy levels, allowing space for quiet, unpredictable contrapuntal lines to unfold. At 12:36, emerging from relative silence, we hear a dramatic increase in activity and volume, with panning between speakers. The level of activity periodically thins and then thickens, the sequencer lines seemingly engaged in conversational dialog. The sounds suddenly cease at 14:32, leaving eight seconds of silence to conclude the piece.

In the liner notes to Until Spring, Subotnick describes his work as “sculpting with sound… placing sound into an imaginary ‘space canvas’ in front of me… molding the color of the sound… transforming the harmonic content… to begin to shape it like the beginnings of some strange visceral language…shaping the sounds into contours of pitch…bending pulsating points along an imaginary time line…” I find this description to aptly capture the nature of the creative process within Sidewinder.

What distinguishes Subotnick’s work of this period from many of its electroacoustic music predecessors is this notion of a “visceral language.” I do not experience Subotnick’s sounds as, to use composer Pierre Schaeffer’s term object sonore (sound objects). I do not experience them as objects at all. In this way, Subotnick reopened the aesthetic conversation. For Subotnick, sounds represent sonic materials to be freely sculpted like highly elastic, multidimensional clay. Rhythm and melody find their place as useful musical ideas, albeit treated very broadly. A metric pulse appears one moment and disappears the next. Or a series of beats can morph into a gesture that rapidly speeds up and coalesces into a complex sound mass. Its components can be placed anywhere in space and moved at will. Physical gestures can be translated into musical gestures; viewed as different manifestations of the same phenomenon, just as a dancer’s body movement and a series of musical sounds can convey the same arc of motion in space and time. Morton Subotnick’s music from the late 1960s and early 1970s opened a refreshingly imaginative world of sound. The listener can take a hint from the title of Subotnick’s third Buchla work, as sounds you can “touch.”

Morton Subotnick - 1969 - Touch

Morton Subotnick 

01. Touch (Beginning)   
02. Touch (Conclusion)   

Music By Morton Subotnick
Created on the Buchla Electronic Music System.

Touch is an incredible piece of music, a brilliant construction of sounds from the Buchla Modular synth and a must listen for anyone even remotely interested in "electronic music". The palate of sounds are both electronic and organic sounding and are more mature than those on Wild Bull and Silver Apples, both ground-breaking albums in their own right.
Touch is the precursor of music to come from Mr. Subotnic. Four Butterfiles, Sidewinder, Until Spring (all sadly never release on CD) are all great works of electronica. Nobody does Subotnic better than Subotnic; his sense of timing, pace, dynamic, timbre and texture are at the top of the scale.

Morton Subotnick - 1968 - The Wild Bull

Morton Subotnick
The Wild Bull

01. The Wild Bull (Part I)    13:00
02. The Wild Bull (Part II)    14:50

Composed By, Liner Notes – Morton Subotnick
Other [Modular Electronic Music System Originally Built By] – Donald Buchla

This is the US version with light brown and black labels.
There also exists a UK version with black labels.

Subtitle: A composition for electronic-music synthesizer
A Nonesuch Records commission

Composed on the modular electronic music system originally built for Morton Subotnick by Donald Buchla at the San Francisco Tape Music Center.

A year after "Silver Apples Of The Moon," Morton Subotnick and his trusty Buchla synthesizer returned with "The Wild Bull." Really, to completely understand this stuff, it may be best to get a view of the Buchla:

Although the same set of sonic tools are at work on this album, the aural picture is very different.

Bringing the sound down to earth, Subotnick focuses less on the seemingly random pings and bleeps that formed the backbone of "Silver Apples." Side A of "The Wild Bull" builds on roaring background oscillators, until the bull finally begins to rise. Here, we find Subotnick focusing more on melody as the bull gets a sort of melodic theme from a fuzzed-out oscillator.

Side B sounds even more progressive with the bleating Buchla forming what could almost be mistaken for a modern IDM rhythm as the ominous, synthesized tones of the bullring wail in the background. The fight ensues as the bulls theme returns, violently rolling around with the rhythm, and finally the bullring returns with its own roar. It's amazing that such a colorful story could emanate from such a primitive machine. I suppose that's a big part of Subotnick's genius.

"Silver Apples" is the electronic breakthrough, but "The Wild Bull" refines and even perfects the alien tones of the Buchla. It's a very listenable piece for what it is and is sure to take your mind on an interesting sonic journey.

Following up Subotnick’s debut album, “Silver Apples of the Moon” was a record that was in many ways its twin partner: Titled “The Wild Bull”, it was composed on the modular electronic music system originally built for Morton Subotnick by Donald Buchla at the San Francisco Tape Music Centersequenced into two parts  totaling a length just under a half an hour and loosely inspired by poetry from the pre-technological past of humanity. But the similarities quickly end there, because whereas his previous album was based on the verse of Yeats and underlined by glittering displays of avant-garde freakouts and peaceful planetary soliloquies, on “The Wild Bull” Subotnick was touched with an inspiration far removed in both time and space and one infinitely darker than the space between the planets: namely, with a Sumerian poem cuneiformed into wet tablets sometime around 1700BC, from which “The Wild Bull” takes its title.
Morton Subotnick was a figurehead in the embryonic stages of electronic music, becoming the first ever musician to be specifically picked out by a record label to make them some synthy jams. Here, the term jams is used loosely, since 'Silver Apples of the Moon', his record for Nonesuch, was comprised solely of two sprawling experiments on untamed modular synthesizers. Both took up to fifteen minutes and were merely assortments of discombobulated sound. While it might have seemed like an avant-garde masterpiece the first time around, on 'The Wild Bull' it's more of the same -- two long, disconnected drones that are cluttered with an onslaught of whirs, whistles and scratches, as well the sound of Subotnick's exhausted synths yawning.
46 years after its initial release, “The Wild Bull” has not lost a single bit of its visionary magnitude and is still an adventurous sonic trip, finally available on vinyl again as audiophile 180gr LP that was cautiously remastered for vinyl. Limited to 500 items worldwide!

… a dark work that relies on deep, lowing tones, harsh attacks, and metallic sonorities to convey its tragic mood.

“Silver Apples” is the electronic breakthrough, but “The Wild Bull” refines and even perfects the alien tones of the Buchla.