Benge : Twenty Systems

'Twenty Systems' by Benge is a fascinating release by Expanding Records. The twenty tracks showcase twenty different synthesizers, one from each year, covering the period 1968-1988. You might expect this deliciously geeky premise to overshadow the music, but Benge has been careful to not get sidetracked by the multitude of knobs and faders. Drones and tones sit comfortably alongside more melodic compositions, culminating in a wonderfully atmospheric album that can be enjoyed from both a musical and technical standpoint.

The CD is presented within a sixty page book containing photos and diagrams of the instruments along with a detailed history documenting the development of synthesisers between 1968 and 1988.

'Presented here are twenty pieces of music created on twenty different synthesisers, one from each year between 1968 and 1988. The purpose of this record is to demonstrate the development of the the synthesiser from the first commercially available systems in the late 1960s to the introduction of fully digital systems in the late 1980s. This is not intended to be a comprehensive history of synthesisers. However, the listener will hopefully gain some insight into the character of each instrument, and on a more general level experience the evolving sound of synthesis over the years. What you hear on each track is the pure sound of an individual instrument. No additional processing, sequencing or effects were applied to any of the recordings. If a system was equipped with an in-built sequencer I made use of it on the particular track, and I often used the process of recording sound-on-sound, where a track is made up of multiple layers of the same synthesiser recorded in parallel. To put it simply, I wanted to let the instruments speak for themselves as much as possible; to let the instruments influence the way I composed the pieces.'
Ben Edwards (Benge)

1968 Moog Modular 3C
1969 EMS VCS3
1970 ARP 2500
1971 ARP 2600
1972 Serge Modular
1973 Roland SH2000
1974 Oberheim SEM
1975 Moog Polymoog
1976 Yamaha CS80
1977 Yamaha CS30
1978 Roland 100M
1979 Korg Lambda
1980 Korg Trident
1981 Yamaha CS70M
1982 PPG Wave
1983 Fairlight CMI
1984 Oberheim Xpander
1985 Yamaha CX5M
1986 NED Synclavier
1987 Kawai K5M