Monday, January 12, 2009


Morton Subotnick was a true pioneer in the field of electronic music, a scientist and composer who, in the 60's and 70's, turned the avant-garde music world on it's ear with his daring, freakish recordings. Working with physicist and designer Don Buchla (known as the "West Coast Robert Moog" - one hell of a compliment if you ask me) in Berkeley in the mid-60's, Subotnick was instrumental in helping Buchla create the generically-named Electronic Music Box, a fore-runner of the analog synthesizers which rose to popularity a couple years later. His unique approach to electronic music, fusing strong rhythmic elements and repeating parts (an abstract grandfather to what modern sound engineers know as "looping"), were documented on his 1967 and 1968 albums, titled "Silver Apples of the Moon" and "The Wild Bull" respectively. These albums were the first ever commissioned recordings of completely electronic origin, and the sequencing and composition were unprecedented.

Below: One of Don Buchla's early synthesizers. SO sweet.

Subotnick is also a Bay Area local, who, although born in the Los Angeles area, went to college at Mills in Oakland and co-founded the multi-media friendly San francisco Tape Music Center with fellow freak Ramon Sender. At age 75 (76 in April), he is still touring the world playing his unique brand of electronic tomfoolery, a seasoned veteran in the war against boring music. Unfortunately, Subotnick's abstract experimentation led to countless atrocities committed in the name of "electronic music", much like Einstein's brilliant discoveries in the field of quantum physics leading to the invention of the atom bomb.
Morton Subotnick created incredible sounds well before "techno" became a filthy word, psychedelic voyages into an undiscovered world which existed beyond our own. He qualifies as a Total Bro due to his innovative approach to both music and electronics, a genuine weirdo living on a completely different plane. Cheers, Mr. Subotnick.

Bonus: Get Morty's 1967 classic "Silver Apples of the Moon" HERE

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