A pioneer of electronic music, composer Morton Subotnick is a legend to those in the know. Coming from a genre of avant garde, Subotnick differed in his approach by using regular rhythm patterns rather than just weird noises, meaning you can dance to his music as well as sitting around on bean bags listening and scratching your beard. This is the follow-up to the 1967 classic 'Silver Apples on the Moon' which is still considered a classic and is hugely influencial to this day.
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Before he was old and sort of looked like Father Christmas (with tech and wires instead of reindeer and reigns), 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. It's more a sound experiment than it is music, with rhythm and melody very low down on Subotnik's Christmas list.
Subotnick was credited with helping prepare modular synths for use by other artists, and on 'The Wild Bull' you can hear that process unfolding: there's a wide array of sounds intersecting and fighting among the fray of "Part II" (the slightly steadier of the two sides, and a very subliminally percussive track), including a horror-flick like synth scream, and it feels like Subotnick's role in this madcap composition must have merely been to tame the sounds, to bring them under one banner. The free-form nature of the record does feel important, in some ways -- you can hear the contradiction in sounds, and the harshness that comes with it, on recent Amon Tobin records. There is a place for it, and 'The Wild Bull' helped make that place -- this record proved that unhinged electronic experiments aren't just a one-off.
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