|Unbelievably great reissue of 3 LPs originally issued by Epic in 1963. Utilizing a proto-Electronium, oscillators, an Ondioline, tape echo and other primitive electronics, this is shockingly contemporary sounding and nothing like Scott's familiar cartoon-jazz and orchestral work. These CDs are legally licensed from Sony by the Dutch Basta label, sound stellar and are each packaged with a16 page booklet of notes & photographs. All three volumes are essential. "In retrospect, SSFB's simple, repetitive melodies and rhythms, intended to pacify infants, sound like--but pre-date--some of the gradually shifting, hypnotic dreamscapes composed by Phillip Glass and Terry Riley a few years later. They also foreshadow the 1970's electro-dance drones of Kraftwerk and Neu!.--Irwin Chusid. From the liner notes by Joachim Gurewitz: "Despite its title, Soothing Sounds for Baby isn't just for infants. When it was recorded by composer/electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott in 1962 or '63 it was intended for babies--but history has endowed this deceptively simple work with a broader significance. Had Scott known that this elemental music's appeal would continue as its target audience grew up, he might have entitled the series Sophisticated Sounds for Baby. Released on three long-playing records in conjunction with the Gesell Institute of Child Development, Inc., Soothing Sounds... was intended to serve as an 'aural toy' during the 'feeding, teething, play, sleep and fretful periods' of infants in three distinct age groups.
The original album notes stressed that a young child's sense of hearing is better developed than many people realize. Besides soothing infants, these recordings were intended to be 'pleasantly stimulating.' Babies like 'new sights and new sounds,' explained a booklet slipped inside the LPs. Music consists of vibrations, which babies also like--'just vibrate baby's bed gently,' the booklet noted, and 'crying often stops.' By approximating 'the rhythmic tinkle of a music box' and 'a ticking watch held close to [the] ear,' SSFB provided a 'quieting' atmosphere of relaxation, warmth, and contentment. Ironically, these same qualities were embodied in a type of adult music that evolved in the 1970s and '80s.
Brian Eno's 1975 album Discreet Music is often cited as the first deliberate attempt at 'ambient music' (though Eno cited No Pussyfooting, a 1973 collaboration with guitarist Robert Fripp, as a forerunner). This music, intended to pacify and mesmerize, later mixed with dance beats into such styles as ambient house, trance, techno, and trip-hop. Echoes can be heard in the recordings of Aphex Twin, The Orb, and Stereolab, among countless others. By Eno's definition of ambient, SSFB qualifies, while pre-dating Discreet Music by over a decade. This reissue re-introduces Scott's seminal work to new generations of fans, whether their listening is active or passive--and regardless of the age of those particular generations. In fact, since the original releases had such limited circulation, it could be claimed that this reissue is actually 'introducing' this music to the world. It was easy to overlook the first time around -- it doesn't scream for attention. So, relax. Listen closely. Or don't. In a world fraught with tension and insecurity, we trust you'll find Raymond Scott's gentle melodies and childlike rhythms to be soothing companions.