The album is largely made up of minimal compositions crafted and produced by processed classical instruments, electric guitar and piano. Most songs surpass the 10-minute mark in long droning suites with two shorter piano-led vignettes that balance out the second disc. Some sounds seem to be gathered from natural elements, static, old video or television dialogues, and other quiet samples.
Four pieces from the beginning of the album were released in April 2009 as a digital download from the Brooklyn label Moodgadget.
The album was generally praised by critics. Ned Raggett, writing for Allmusic, stated:
There's both overt and quiet humor in the title of Kyle Bobby Dunn's 2010 two-CD collection on Low Point -- not only does Dunn have enough material to present in such a collection, Dunn himself isn't even a quarter-century old yet. The 12-song compilation can be generally described as electronic/ambient music, but what becomes clearer as A Young Person's Guide To continues is the variety Dunn brings within that general rubric, from the gentle stretch and drones on lengthy opener "Butel" to the slow feedback cascade on "A Small Show of Hands" to the empty, serene "The Second Ponderosa," its title almost suggesting a new – and lost – west to replace the "old" one. The sense of calm humor noted in the overall title appears elsewhere in the collection – "Empty Gazing" could just as easily be a critique of the kind of blissed out reaction such music can cause as it is a celebration of it. But the real winner on a serious front might be the piano-led "Sets of Four," thanks to its subtitle: "Its Meaning Is Deeper Than Its Title Implies." Other fine songs like the lighter-in-feel "Promenade" and the concluding "The Nightjar" make A Young Person's Guide To both satisfying in itself and promising for whatever might happen next with Dunn's work.
A Young Person’s Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn is a forward looking affair which utilizes modern (though never ostentatiously so) acoustic and electronic elements. It is precisely this rich, deft mix of traditional and innovative components which elevates A Young Person’s Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn to at times transcendental heights.
Dunn’s attention to detail and unwillingness to just loop and filter is ultimately what makes this recording a worthwhile foray into the world of glacial ambient music, and makes him an artist to keep tabs on. Strict repetition is difficult to pull off, and Dunn wisely spends his time making sure the tracks are constantly developing, positioning sounds against each other, and manipulating textures over time.
Peter Van Cooten heavily praised the album – expressing an emotionality that separated it largely from other guitar and drone based musics. He wrote,
A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn has no weak moment. It is relaxing, non-intrusive, but compelling enough to keep you interested for the full two cd's length. Though still in his early twenties, composer Kyle Bobby Dunn definitely masters the genre.
Tobias Fischer of Tokafi Magazine relished the album with compliments and praise:
Included are short, mysterious and seemingly pitched-down piano sketches. Long, monolithic and sensually propped-up Ambient sessions. Majestic moods. Brittle textures. Experimental developments. Almost static soundscapes. Orchestral echoes. Guitar Drones. It is a work so dense, over-the-top and imposing that two full discs of this are both too much and never enough – once you've made up your mind to take the trip, the laws of time no longer hold dominion.
The music shimmers with a kind of strange electricity as Dunn achieves a wealth of dramatic potency and musical color on every track. With its trembling textures and subtle gradations and variations of tone and timbre this music is given the space to open up into a myriad of sustaining atmospheres. Every sonic swell leads a double life, as part of the soundfield and as a thing in itself – a round tone rolling through reverb. From eloquent reflection and pastoral imagery to a cold midnight wind each piece is an intimate affair. Deep listening results in the loss of self – and while it is a fascinating pastime to contemplate the way Dunn's music is produced (whether with a guitar, feedback loops, digital manipulations or string ensemble) time is much better spent absorbing the slowly breathing dronescapes and examining the interior condition his pieces evoke.
Indie rock webzine, Tome to the Weather Machine, also rated the album highly, reviewing:
Discernible instruments are definitely here—bright trumpets, mellow horns, organs, pianos, strings... but largely they are not. Long-tones are held to such lengths that the physical frequencies emitted from the bells of horns and the strings of cellos become the true “instruments” that Dunn actually plays. They are living, breathing entities which Dunn fathers and attentively nurtures. He watches them grow up and mature with a tactful eye, sculpting each individual sound in such a way that lofty potentials are fulfilled in gloriously glacial monuments that reach high and rumble deep below. Layering and intricate details are subtle and gentle—so much so that they're hardly noticeable—but the big picture is stunning: tones overlap to the point where he’s creating and orchestrating something as natural as an outdoor day, but it's all synthesized in the concert hall, on a stage and in a room that is deep, wide and cavernous.
What results is something like a chamber-music equivalent of Kirlian photography: dark, shadowy and indistinct at its core, surrounded by an iridescent glow. The effect is mysterious, hypnotic and deeply affecting.