It's strange in the 21st century to think of Beaver & Krause
's debut album as being the Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music
-- an instructional recording on how the then-new Moog synthesizer could be used. Originally issued as a double album, it contained 68 short tracks over four sides; not bad considering the entire thing is only 48-minutes long. To hear these pieces in the current age is a bit of a wonder. The reason being of course, that it is the sound of the Moog itself without accompaniment or as an atmospheric instrument used to enhance other instruments in songs. Instead, these two pioneers demonstrated each module on the synthesizer, and selected from the four outputs of the Moog's oscillators (which in those days were unstable in terms of pitch and the machine had to be retuned): sine, triangular, continuously randomly variable, and sawtooth. They were used individually and in concert, and the sounds themselves were used as examples of what was possible. In 2006 Guide
was reissued on CD by Collector's Choice CD with liner notes by Richie Unterberger
; this is an exercise in ambience run amok, or turned 180-degrees. While there was no such thing as "ambient" music at the time, these pieces fold into something together, not as a random boatload of isolated sounds, but as a work, something to be engaged and considered not as historical artifact, but as music itself -- it's hard to believe that no one has used "Sequential Voltage Sources, Composition" in a dance record yet -- though many white labels sound as if they have. This piece has rhythm and crunchy high-pitched beats that seem as random as the tone generations and modes, which function as breakbeats do. Ultimately, this disc has to be heard to really be believed. It's a wonder of imagination, patience and execution.