Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause

Resident Archivist Jack Dangers dusts down ‘The Nonesuch Guide To Electronic Music’ by Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause

I found this in a record shop here in Mill Valley in 1993. I’d never seen it before, it was one of those records you didn’t find in the UK. So when I first saw it, everything about it was exciting. I mean, the title! ‘The Nonesuch Guide To Electronic Music’! And then I opened it up and flicked through the booklet, and I was like, “Oh yeah! This is great!”.

It’s a double album which is designed as an introduction to the concepts of synthesis, using the Moog Series III modular synthesiser. It comes with a 16-page “syllabus”, which Bernie Krause wrote. The tracks are all demonstrations of sound generators, modulation and filtering, apart from two versions of a tune called ‘Peace Three’.

The album was released on Nonesuch, a sub-label of Elektra which was started in 1950 by Jac Holzman. He was really interested in electronic music, and the album acted as a promotion of the whole idea of how synthesisers could be used to make music. 

According to the sleeve notes of the 2005 CD reissue, Holzman introduced Beaver and Krause to each other. They became Moog representatives on the west coast, and they demonstrated the Moog modular in a booth at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. They became the go-to guys for all things synth for the West Coast music business, and would become consultants and contributors on lots of albums, including The Monkees ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd’ in 1967 and The Electric Flag’s ‘The Trip’. In 1969 they worked on Jackie Lomax’s record ‘Is This What You Want?’ for Apple Records, with George Harrison producing. 

Bernie Krause then sold George Harrison a Moog, which he used on his solo album ‘Electronic Sound’. That album sounds like whoever is operating the synth doesn’t know what they’re doing. Krause even had his name taken off the artwork because half of it was just him and Harrison fiddling about with the Moog. He didn’t know it was being recorded or that it would be released. He also helped with George Martin’s Moog, and Martin wrote the sleeve notes for Beaver & Krause’s next album, ‘Ragnarök (Electronic Funk)’ in 1969.

I sampled this record for a Depeche Mode remix I did in 1993. I had a conversation with Daniel Miller while I was in the studio doing it, and he said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t sample anything!’.

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