Whether you know it or not, you've probably already heard the music of Raymond Scott. Scott was an electronic music pioneer who not only composed fascinating inorganic music, but also invented patented instruments such as the clavivox, the circle machine, and Bandito the Bongo Artist. Although he was a serious composer, some of his zany but infectious melodies, such as "Powerhouse" and "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals," were used in early Warner Bros. cartoons from the '30s and '40s (many are available on Reckless Nights & Turkish Twilights
). Most of the 69 tracks on Manhattan Research
come from a later period -- the '60s -- and range from spacey electronic abstractions to kitschy jingles for Bufferin and Vicks cough drops. There are also two pre-Muppets
collaborations with Jim Henson that demonstrate the limitless imaginations of both men. Listening to Scott's music today can be somewhat disorienting -- its chirpy blips sound simultaneously primitive and futuristic, outlandishly bizarre but cozily familiar. This comprehensive two-disc set comes with a 144-page, full-color, hardcover book featuring analyses and interviews with those who respected and worked with him, including synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog. It's a well-deserved homage to a man whose aural noodling broke new ground and challenged our notion of what music should be.