Raymond Scott: Soothing Sounds For Baby (3xCD, Rasta, 1963)

Raymond Scott was a band-leader turned electronic music pioneer and synthesizer inventor. In 1963, he released these three LPs aimed at babies of 1–6, 6–12, and 12–18 months. They were, apparently, not a hit with their target market at the time. Your loss, sixties-babies, because there’s some fantastic stuff here. It was clearly either influential or prophetic or both, anticipating the sounds which would crop up over the following years and decades in a wide range of genres. There are obvious similarities to both the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (who produced the Doctor Who theme the same year) and Steve Reich later in that decade. At times, it’s the resemblance to Kraftwerk that jumps out. Perhaps most striking (and, as far as I know, this is a rare original observation by your humble commentator) is the way that Toy Typewriter sounds almost exactly like a washing-up-liquid-bottles-and-sticky-backed-plastic version of Plastikman’s 1994 minimal techno classic Kriket: not only do both revolve around the same rhythmic loop, but both employ the same use of filters to make the sound drift away and jump forwards. There was something fragile and exotic about this type of music which I think is impossible to reproduce these days (just look at what’s happened to the aforementioned Doctor Who theme over the years, each version a little more pumped up, a little more professionally produced, and a little less magical, until we get today’s utterly charmless offering which has all the sense of wonder of Paul Oakenfold’s Big Brother tune). Admittedly, some tracks here stand up less well than others, but the best are gems.

I bought this from Amazon, having heard the track Lullaby on Tom Ravenscroft’s radio show.

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