Raymond Scott – Manhattan Research Inc + The Documentary [Music/Early Electronica]

Manhattan Research Inc.’ is a posthumous compilation from inventor and early electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott. It contains over just over two hours’-worth of space-age pop jingles and library-flavoured electronic music. It’s a perfect release both for those wanting to explore the history of synth music and for listeners who are just after some playful, retro-futurist electronica. Scott’s minimal and ambient compositions were influential to Brian EnoTerry RileyKraftwerk and Phillip Glass.

Well, who influenced Kraftwerk?
They certainly reference Raymond Scott as a big influence. Raymond Scott beat everyone to the punch with electronic music in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. He built his own equipment and did it all himself. Mechanical sequencers and step.

In 2000 the label Basta released this first time-ever compilation of his 1950s-60s recordings featuring Raymond Scott’s performances on his pioneering electronic music inventions (the ‘Circle Machine,’ the ‘Rhythm Modulator,’ the ‘Bass-Line Generator,’ the ‘Electronium,’ the ‘Clavivox,’ & other equipment designed & built by Raymond Scott). It included Raymond Scott’s collaborative works with Jim Henson, plus a 144-page full-color book featuring interviews with those who knew and worked with Raymond Scott (such as Moog synthesizer inventor Robert Moog), along with previously unpublished photographs, lab notes, schematics, & US patents.

Scott would often describe Manhattan Research, Inc. as “More than a think factory – a dream center where the excitement of tomorrow is made available today.” The material, while never intended for commercial release, provides insight into Scott’s work. Included among the tracks on the album are commercials for companies such as Ford Motor and IBM, a humorous “Audio Logo” collage entitled “Don’t Beat Your Wife Every Night!”, and various collaborations with Jim Henson (of Muppets fame). The album features a number of Scott’s inventions including the Clavivox keyboard, Circle Machine, Bass Line Generator, Rhythm Modulator, Karloff, Bandito the Bongo Artist, and the auto-composing Electronium.

Much of the audio selections, as well as the images for the accompanying 144-page book, were culled from the University of Missouri Kansas City’s extensive collection of Raymond Scott material. Album producers Gert-Jan Blom and Jeff Winner worked with several of the university’s staff in choosing material for the project. During the process, the two producers were impressed by the quality and fidelity of the recordings, despite being some thirty to forty years old. Due to Scott’s meticulous attention to detail, “They were so well recorded that almost no audio correction was necessary during the mastering” of the album.” In the CD notes, Blom & Winner write, “Scott sought to master all aspects of sound capture and manipulation. His special interest in the technical aspects of recording, combined with the state-of-the-art facilities at his disposal, provided him with enormous hands-on experience as an engineer.”

In 2017 and then again in 2021 the label Music on Vinyl released it as a 3 vinyl set. See the various version on Discogs here!

On Raymnd Scotts website they. are offering a FREE 349-page downloadable pdf compendium of Raymond Scott artifacts and ephemera, including previously uncirculated historic material. You find it here!

The Documentary

RAYMOND SCOTT (1908-1994) was one of the most prolific and central figures in 20th century music, with a career that began in the 1930s swing/big-band era, and continued through the experimental electronic music age of the 1970s.

Although Scott was a famous figure during the mid-twentieth century, and currently has a dedicated cult following (that includes some of the most renowned artists in the music world), his name — not his music — remains largely unknown to the general public.

But now there is a documentary film about this maverick musician, composer, inventor, and electronic music pioneer that will help raise awareness of this visionary. Deconstructing Dad tells the story of Scott’s life and career from a unique perspective, that of his only son, Stan Warnow.

Raymond Scott first came to the attention of the music world on CBS radio with his innovative group the Raymond Scott Quintette in late 1936. He went on to a career that included writing music for and appearances in several Hollywood films, touring Big Bands, and in the 1940s he formed the first integrated radio orchestra — a jazz group that was a critical favorite. It included jazz greats like Coleman Hawkins and Cozy Cole.

Along the way, many of his highly original musical compositions — with their characteristic sophisticated yet quirky melodies and rhythms — were licensed by Warner Bros.for their internationally famous LOONEY TUNES. If you’ve ever been entertained by the wacky antics of Bugs Bunny, or the Road Runner and Wile Coyote, you’ve almost surely heard his music. He’s been called “the man who made cartoons swing.”

Later in the 1940s, he wrote the music for the Broadway musical Lute Song, which starred Yul Brynner and Mary Martin. In the 1950s he led the orchestra for Your Hit Parade, on NBC television composed several film scores, and wrote commercial jingles. But this work was minor compared to the work he was doing in the emerging field of electronic music. He had always been fascinated by the technology of music and was a highly accomplished audio engineer.

From the 1950s through the 1970s he invented and refined a dazzling array of electronic musical instruments (as well as other devices like an early fax machine), that were years ahead of what was being done elsewhere. Scott’s crowning invention, The Electronium, which he described as ”an instantaneous composition and performance machine,” was purchased by Berry Gordy for Motown, and Scott worked for Motown for several years as their Director of Electronic Music Research and Development.

When his years at Motown ended, he spent several more years on the Electronium and other electronic music projects, until he was crippled by a stroke in the mid-1980s which rendered him unable to work. He died in Van Nuys, California in 1994.

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