Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta
for flute and electronics
Wintermute was commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and first performed by David Cuthbert and Sound Intermedia at the BFI Southbank. The title comes from William Gibson’s 1984 cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. In the book, Wintermute is a vastly powerful artificial intelligence who orchestrates a heist designed to increase his capabilities beyond the restrictions of the government-enforced “Turing Law Code”.
Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, but left the United States in 1968, one of the tens of thousands of draft dodgers who fled to Canada to avoid military service in Vietnam. This led to the dialogue of Neuromancer’s futuristic underworld drawing heavily on what Gibson calls “1969 Toronto dope dealer's slang, or biker talk”. This piece uses an early, out-of-print audiobook of Neuromancer as the sole sound source for the electronic sounds. As the piece progresses, snippets of this underworld dialogue—in Gibson’s own voice—can gradually be heard seeping through the texture of the piece.
This piece is about the compression of vast amounts of information. It’s about cataloging, indexing, sorting, resorting and organising: an innocuous spreadsheet in a cyberpunk bureaucracy.
December 10, 2014 - London Sinfonietta, BFI Southbank NFT3, London, UK