SCOTT, RAYMOND: Manhattan Research Inc. Dbl CD and Book
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2 CDs in a hard bound 148 page (colour) book, beautifully illustrated and laid out, well documented. What to say about this extraordinary document? Raymond Scott, best known as a bandleader and composer whose quintet performed fast and furious pieces - many of which found their way into Bugs Bunny cartoons - was also an inventor and pioneer of electronic instruments (Sequencers, Bass line Generator, Elektronium, Clavivox, Bandito the bongo artist), ran electronic R&D for Motown and produced a significant amount of electronic music for soundtracks, commercials, demonstration purposes - and for the hell of it. Many of the pieces painstakingly assembled here have never been heard outside Scott's studios. Musical content. Stranger than Negativland, stranger than fiction are the real commercial's of the late 50's and early 60's that were the bread and butter work of Manhattan Research, making much of this collection more post modern than post modern. I mean some of these pieces are deeply odd, others breathtakingly kitschy. And so much great copy-writing. A minute is the average length. Sometimes Raymond talks about the pieces (from lectures). It says a lot about the "future" as conceived in the late 50's and early 60's. Then there are demonstration recordings, work tapes and experimental extracts featuring some of RS's many invented electronic instruments (he designed the first sequencer in 1960 - way ahead of the game - which like another great pioneer, Les Paul, he first kept to himself. Then there are short film soundtracks and instrumental pieces - in the Forbidden Planet vein (or even electro-poppy) rather than art-electronic, but still using state of the art technology and techniques. So much that seems contemporary is already stated here, and sometimes what is achieved is up to and beyond any art electronics of the period. Still the approach is always popular, if sometimes warped. This collection hits on so many levels- musical, experimental, sociological, historical that it is impossible to exaggerate it's importance. And it makes great listening. The book is superb and the research impressive. This is a thing of beauty, of history and of strangeness. It's not stunning but it is incomparable- a glimpse into one eccentric life. Priceless. And cheap.