Not unlike James Tenney, his late former colleague at York University, David Rosenboom is highly adept at taking rigorously structured systems and rendering them in a manner that is observable and bursting with sound colour. This two-disc set compiles the titular cycle of pieces whose creation spans 1978–81, each for different instrumentations.
The album opens with a piece for Buchla synth, performed at Toronto’s Music Gallery. With keening (undertone-overtone series-derived) tone progressions and chattering insectoid percussive elements, the soundworld of the piece is more evocative of later Autechre than it is of the familiar pointillistic gibberish of high modernism—despite the fact that it’s the product of a rather esoteric process. The second piece, for cellos, percussion, and trombone, is another highlight, opening with an attractive, slippery, glissando-filled unison melody reminiscent of Peter Zummo. Soon it becomes wrought with anxious tom-tom activity, and the odd metronomic intensity mounts gradually.
Etude II, on the second disc, is a pungent bouquet of timbres and pitches. A stream of various acoustic and electronic pluck-like sounds, its unsteady mechanical motion and microtonality reminds me of Nancarrow’s famed player-piano studies.
The sprawling vignette-based large-ensemble piece that closes the album is as diverse as everything else preceding. It draws on the bright pop-like orchestral colour of the NYC Downtown, but also the slightly aloof, leaden stubbornness of their British counterparts.

In The Beginning goes down like a greatest hits collection, offering a huge variety of sounds with remarkable consistency. And each piece within the cycle is long enough that the listener can be fully absorbed. This CD is thoroughly engrossing, and highly recommended.