California E.A.R. Unit; voices: Joan La Barbara, Gene Youngblood, Morton Subotnick; Amernet String Qt.; James Tocco, piano; Bleda Elibal, double bass
Morton Subotnick is one of the world’s foremost composers of electronic music and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. Both works on this disc share the trademarks of his unique style: the relentless, pounding motoric energy that merges, sometimes with startling suddenness, into a dreamlike texture that seems to float, the continual sense of something magical occurring, often produced with no more paraphernalia than a desktop computer. And the Butterflies Begin to Sing [for string quartet, bass, MIDI keyboard, and computer (1988)], conceived as music for an imaginary ballet, is based on The Hundred Headless Women, a surreal novel by Max Ernst.
All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis [for flute, cello, MIDI keyboard, MIDI mallets, and computer (1991)], has two large sections, each containing two parts-the first slow, the second a huge, multi-faceted ritual dance, almost like ballet, containing complex individual words and rhythms, divided into tiny sections. Part I begins with an evocation which establishes the male character; Part II ends with an epilogue, a bit like the evocation, but without the male voice. The vocal text is from Ernst's "A Young Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil," which has no story but deals surrealistically with the relationship between masculine and feminine forces.