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Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 2

Raymond Scott

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Album Review

As the second volume in the Soothing Sounds for Baby trilogy, Vol. 2 was designed by Raymond Scott for infants six to 12 months old. Correspondingly, it features fewer, but longer and more complex, rhythmic compositions. The first song, "Tempo Block," is a transitional piece, combining Vol. 1's sprightly keyboard melodies with a slightly tribal rhythm tapped out on an electronic bongo. "The Happy Whistler" increases in rhythmic syncopation and melodic counterpoint, featuring a circular bassline and alternately warbling and whistling keyboards over lumbering drums. Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 2's final piece, "Toy Typewriter," is perhaps the most avant-garde of the series. The song consists of exactly what its title indicates: a toy typewriter, played masterfully by Scott to produce subtle, shifting rhythms that sound like proto-jungle breakbeats. With 26 keys and the space bar, he achieves a deceptively simple, calming, and active effect. As with the whole series, on "Toy Typewriter" Scott does the near impossible, packaging progressive musical ideas in a simple, accessible way. Even more impressively, the overall sound of Soothing Sounds for Baby has barely dated at all. Though the concept of space age music for babies is rooted in the naively futuristic outlook of the early '60s, the series' kitsch factor is remarkably low. Thanks to its clean, spacious production and minimal arrangements, Soothing Sounds for Baby remains progressive yet playful, rewarding listeners who pay close attention to its pretty, introspective compositions.

Biography

Born: 10 September 1908 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Composer, bandleader, and inventor Raymond Scott was among the unheralded pioneers of contemporary experimental music, a figure whose genius and influence have seeped almost subliminally into the mass cultural consciousness. As a visionary whose name is largely unknown but whose music is immediately recognizable, Scott's was a career stuffed with contradictions: though his early work anticipated the breathless invention of bebop, his obsession with perfectionism and memorization was the very antithesis...
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