Raymond Scott: Twilight in Turkey

Despite being co-opted for many long-lived Warner Bros. cartoons, Raymond Scott's late-1930s music has largely been forgotten. Encountering it now is like opening an heirloom music box from which figurines pop up to play a quaintly charming tune. Except as you listen and peer down, you're gradually, irresistibly drawn into this strange tableau. You lean closer. The figurines have come alive! They're more than entertaining. They're your new best friends. And that music! You realize it's neither quaint nor charming. It's completely, utterly, certifiably insane! And you want it never, ever to stop. Welcome to the world of Raymond Scott.

October 31, 2007 · 0 comments

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Raymond Scott: The Penguin

Being as flightless as an ostrich, and by comparison a clumsy walker, doesn't deter the Emperor Penguin from maintaining the dignity of a headwaiter whilst wintering in Antarctica. Here one poses imperially for a portrait by the 1930s master of musical obscurantism, Raymond Scott—no kin to British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott. (Obviously, Falcon's a bird of a different feather.) Some listeners mistake Scott's jagged syncopations and goofy disjointedness for a joke. Yet like a tipsy penguin teetering on ice skates, Scott gets where he intended, and in so doing makes the adventure as endearingly loopy as . . . well, an Emperor Penguin.

October 31, 2007 · 0 comments

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Raymond Scott: Powerhouse

La beauté folle des machines, Ravel called it—the mad beauty of machines. But beware: artists who investigate such phenomena themselves risk being declared insane. Long after Ravel's death, French neurologists found evidence of cerebral dysfunction, particularly in his mechanistic Boléro (1928), which manifested “the influence of disease on the creative process.” Brooklyn-born Raymond Scott hasn't been dead long enough to be clinically diagnosed, but "Powerhouse" shows similar preoccupation with the automated workings of cylinders, gears, generators, pistons, rods, turbines and valves, all meshing towards a common goal of smoothly motive efficiency. In other words, it swings. Crazy, man, crazy

October 31, 2007 · 0 comments

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