Back in the 1930s and ’40s, Raymond Scott was a big band composer, arranger and conductor; composer of “cartoon” jazz (whose tunes like “Powerhouse” and “Dinner Music For a Pack Of Hungry Cannibals” supplied the backdrop for many a Warner Brothers cartoon); chamber jazz musician and commercial jingle writer. By the ’50s, he began experimenting with electronics on the side, and invented instruments like the Clavivox, which was a kind of keyboard Theremin, and the massive Electronium, an “instantaneous composition-performance machine.” In 1963, three volumes of his electronic compositions, made with the Ondioline and perhaps a proto-Electronium, called Soothing Sounds For Baby appeared on Epic Records. With its “maddeningly” repetitive rhythms, simple child-like melodies and generous amounts of distant echo and reverb, these tracks unintentionally invented electronic minimalism and ambient music years before Brian Eno or Kraftwerk.
Some highlights on this very necessary reissue series of three CDs include “Lullaby” with the incessant “ca tink-tink, ca-tink-tink” drinking glass / music box rhythm layered with keyboard melodies plus improv washes floated over the top; the tick-tocking “Tic Toc,” which sounds exactly like an electronic version of it’s title; and “The Toy Typewriter,” which is a very tranced-out 17 minute track full of constant EQ tone-shifting, skittering, electronic minimalism. The achingly pleasant haze of “Little Miss Echo” drifts about very nicely, sounding a lot like mid ’70s ambience—at the beginning of the ’60s. That this music was a direct ancestor to Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Stereolab, etc. doesn’t even start to tell the story. The Raymond Scott legend and the Soothing Sounds For Baby albums are another very unlikely and strange chapter in the fascinating history of electronic music. The booklets feature detailed liner notes and historical archive photos. These albums were also recently reissued on limited-edition vinyl in a 3-LP set with original cover art. “I couldn’t believe they would play this spooky stuff for babies.”—Chris Athens, SONY digital transfer engineer.
Label: Basta Catalog Number: Volume 1 (1-6 Months) 30-9064-2, Volume 2 (6-12 Months) 30-9065-2, Volume 3 (12-18 Months) 30-9066-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: Volume 1: 5, Volume 2: 3, Volume 3: 3 Total Time: Volume 1: 38:29, Volume 2: 31:44, Volume 3: 31:43 Country: Holland Released: 1997 Related Artists: Louis and Bebe Barron, Attilio Mineo More Discogs, Official, Wikipedia