Morton Subotnick & Tony Martin
George Lewis & Wet Ink Ensemble
A celebratory night. I don’t know why but this was an exuberant evening. The house was packed with all ages and everyone seemed thrilled to be there. I think we were so pleased with Roulette’s new venue, favorite musicians were performing, and many us knew each other. The first set with Mort and Tony performing. It began with a short piece called Duet. Here light and sound performed in a call and response manner. The notes say that this piece continues the 48 year collaboration history of Martin performing his visual compositions with Subotnick’s sound. A Sky of Cloudless Sulpher: Revisited was the next great collaboration of the two. From Buchla equipment used in 1977 to Ableton Live on his Mac and the new Buchla 200e, Subotnick improvised with Martin in a parallel visual performance. Both the sounds and the sights filled me up.
Next set, improvisation by George Lewis, trombone and Sam Pluta on software designed by Pluta written in Supercollider and other control sources beyond my comprehension. It both transformed the trombone sound and synthesized new sounds. It’s good to hear George performing as that’s becoming rarer as he focuses on composition. Hence, the next piece, Les Exercices Spirituels for chamber orchestra and spatialized electronic sound. This gorgeous piece uses eight channels of real-time spatialization (designed by Damon Holzborn, a friend from UCSD, now at Columbia) to process the sounds of the ensemble. Lewis writes “the work was inspired by French philosopher Pierre Hadot who argued that ancient philosophy should not be viewed simply as a system of abstract discourses but as a set of practices or ‘spiritual exercises’ that aim at individual and social transformation.” All that said, it was just plain wonderful to listen to.