’20 Systems’ Features A History Of Synthesis Via 20 Classic Synthesizers

Synthesist Ben Edwards, aka Benge, has released 20 Systems – his 2008 album, featuring 20 tracks made on 20 synthesizers spanning 20 years – for the first time in digital formats.

Each track on the album features sounds from a single synthesizer, starting from a 1968 Moog modular and ending with a 1987 Kawai K5M.

The album features a 58-page booklet that discusses each of the instruments and tracks, with a forward by Robin Rimbaud (Scanner).

Brian Eno described the album as “A brilliant contribution to the archaeology of electronic music.”

Here’s what Edwards has to say about the album:

“The purpose of the record is to demonstrate the development of the synthesiser from the first commercially available systems in the late 1960s to the introduction of fully digital systems in the late 1980s

Although not intended to be a comprehensive history of synthesisers, 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.

Each track is the pure sound of an individual instrument, with no additional processing, sequencing or effects applied to any of the recordings. If a system was equipped with an in-built sequencer, it was used, and there are several examples of sound-on-sound processes, where a track is made up of multiple layers of the same synthesizer.”

Tracks:

  1. 1968 Moog Modular 03:26
  2. 1969 EMS VCS3 05:12
  3. 1970 ARP 2500 03:07
  4. 1971 ARP 2600 01:43
  5. 1972 Serge Modular 04:05
  6. 1973 Roland SH2000 03:44
  7. 1974 Oberheim SEM 01:54
  8. 1975 Moog Polymoog 02:56
  9. 1976 Yamaha CS80 03:49
  10. 1977 Yamaha CS30 02:23
  11. 1978 Roland 100M 04:10
  12. 1979 Korg Lambda 01:42
  13. 1980 Korg Trident 02:03
  14. 1981 Yamaha CS70M 02:09
  15. 1982 PPG Wave 02:04
  16. 1983 Fairlight CMI 03:47
  17. 1984 Oberheim Xpander 01:44
  18. 1985 Yamaha CX5M 02:35
  19. 1986 NED Synclavier 07:28
  20. 1987 Kawai K5M 04:23

You can preview the album below or at Bandcamp:

7 thoughts on “’20 Systems’ Features A History Of Synthesis Via 20 Classic Synthesizers

  1. Great album. Definitely worth the asking price on Bandcamp, but not the first time available in a digital format. I purchased it on eMusic no later than March of 2018. It did not, however, include the pdf.

    From the Bandcamp page:
    “Benge’s seminal 2008 synthesiser concept album, available for the first time in all its glory including the full 58 page booklet (in PDF format – free with the download)”

    1. If you wait until you’ve got the time and money you’ll have an awful long wait. Do it now with what you have. A kazuo and a tape recorder?

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