Jump to content

Beauty in the Beast - Wendy Carlos

   (0 reviews)

Beauty in the Beast is a studio album from the American keyboardist and composer Wendy Carlos, released in 1986 on Audion Records, her first for a different label other than Columbia Records since 1968. The album uses alternate musical tunings and scales, influenced by jazz and world music. On the back she includes a quote by Van Gogh: "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it."

As the liner notes state, the entire album is synthesized, meaning that "All the music and sounds heard on this recording were directly digitally generated. This eliminates all the limitations of microphones, the weak link necessary in nearly all other digital recordings, including those that use 'sampling' technologies."

Dave Benson wrote, "it seems that for most users of synthesizers the extra freedom has not had much effect, in the sense that most music involving synthesizers is written using the equal tempered twelve tone scale. A notable exception is Wendy Carlos, who has composed a great deal of music for synthesizers using many different scales. [Benson] particularly recommend[s] Beauty in the Beast...(SYNCD 200, Audion, 1986, Passport Records, Inc.)."

"The music on this album cuts through a lot of the conventions and restraints that were used as frameworks for previous releases: instrumentation, tonality, and scaling, to name just a few."

Album Liner Notes

Did you ever notice that there's beauty in every beast of the earth, a quality of essential gorgeousness, just below each fearsome exterior? Consider the carnivorous jungle tigers, the majestic elephants of the savanna, or the white-plumed birds on the cover of this album. All are decidedly "beastly," and yet all are in truth exquisitely beautiful.

A similar duality is evident in other worlds apart from nature's. A clattering Model-T Ford is one example, and a complex digital synthesizer as was used for all of this album is another. The "familiar-yet-strange" timbres which you will hear have sort of a beautiful plus beastly quality, and the same is certainly true of all the unfamiliar tunings you'll encounter herein. Thanks to such reasons and others, Beauty In The Beast is among the most unusual music I've ever heard. Yet I wrote it! How can this be?
To begin with, this has been the most exciting musical project in my life. The year and a half to compose and record this music (following the two years before that, laying the essential groundwork with Digital Moonscapes) have produced results far beyond my ideals when I set out to avoid the usual constraints imposed by conventions of scale, and tuning, not to mention instrumentation.

It makes sense: if you put aside the traditional equally tempered scale, and also standard acoustic and electronic sounds and timbres, and assemble a composition and performance instrument based on anything else, that alone guarantees unique results. If you are really lucky you will find yourself located at the right time and place to have an instrument capable of producing (to say it simply) whatever the human ear and brain like best. All theoretical concerns remain secondary to that pragmatic, humanly rewarding goal.

You now hold in your hands an album of calculated guesses as to the music of the perhaps not too distant future, an encomium to all past and present earthly made (but no longer earthly bound) music. A music which at once terrifies with its beastly strangeness, while it seduces with a never-before-heard beauty. Enjoy!

Track Listings:
    1. Incantation (6:47)
    2. Beauty In The Beast (3:57)
    3. Poem For Bali (17:40)
    4. Just Imaginings (12:07)
    5. That's Just It (3:36)
    6. Yusae-Aisae (3:12)
    7. C'est Afrique (6:13)
    8. A Woman's Song (4:09)
Total Time: 57:41
Artist Name(s):
Wendy Carlos
Wendy Carlos
Release Year: 1986
Drone, Electroacoustic, Experimental, Minimal, Soundtrack
Album Type:
Cassette, Compact Disc, LP 33 1/3
Cover & Packge Design:
Audion album design by Murray Brenman, Cover painting by W. Y. Weca, 1986 photo of Wendy Carlos by Vernon Smith
Mastering: George Marino at Sterling Sound
Engineer(s): Wendy Carlos
BMI, Creative Commons
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
Audion Recording Co
Catalog Number(s):
SYN 200
New York City, NY USA
Passport Records
Jem Records, Inc.
Editions / Reissues
  1. 1986 - LP - Audion Recording Co - SYN 200 - USA
  2. 1986 - Cassette - Audion Recording Co - SYNC 200 - USA
  3. 1986 - CD - Audion Recording Co - SYNCD 200 - USA
  4. 2000 - CD - East Side Digital - ESD 81552 - USA
Synthesizers Used
Album Locator
[+] Amazon
[+] Amoeba
[+] Discogs
[+] Google
[+] YouTube

  Report Album

User Feedback

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.


  • Create New...