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Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 3 (12-18 Months)

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Album Review

After exploring melody in Vol. 1 and percussion in Vol. 2, Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 3 integrates and alternates between the two concepts, resulting in the series' greatest musical contrasts. Appropriately for its intended age group of 12 to 18 months, Vol. 3 contains the series' most intricate pieces. The arrangements take center stage on the album's three pieces, particularly on the opening song, "Tin Soldier." A fittingly stiff, metallic snare anchors dancing, banjo, and harpsichord-like synth melodies, then reaches farther orbits with some of Raymond Scott's signature spacy keyboards. "Little Miss Echo" follows with one of the series' loveliest, most ambient works. Appropriately spacious-sounding, the song floats on giant synth washes topped by sonarlike flourishes and supported by a delicate, stately bassline. Its minimal percussion harks back to Vol. 1's spacy melodies, but "Little Miss Echo" is more serene and complex, with sophisticated melodies and harmonies that predict artists like Stereolab and Laika almost 30 years before their existence. The album's final track, "The Playful Drummer," explores percussion's tonal, melodic potential in a very different take on melody and rhythm. As a keyboard plays a constant oompah rhythm, Scott is the playful drummer, experimenting with melodies and patterns on his electronic drums, never quite settling into a predictable pattern over the song's 15-minute stretch. Instead, "The Playful Drummer" skips and jumps from high to low, fast to slow, tossing in some snippets of feedback for good measure. One of the more disorienting but interesting pieces of the Soothing Sounds for Baby series, the song showcases Scott's undiluted artistic vision. Much like a baby itself, Soothing Sounds for Baby is playful and ever-changing, revealing its hidden logic and maturity over time.


Born: September 10, 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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