Monday, February 03, 2014

Raymond Scott Rewired

UPDATE (Feb 6): Raymond Scott Rewired now has a website.

As a musician, composer, bandleader, and inventor, Raymond Scott was a perfectionist, but not a stylistic purist. His late-1930s six-man "Quintette" crafted novelty jazz that layered ethnic contours and pan-global riffs over a propulsive beat. In the 1940s Scott's antic melodies were adapted in Warner Bros. cartoons because WB music director Carl Stalling found the compositions genetically animated. Scott's mid-century orchestral works were danceable, except when they veered into complex, cerebral concert-jazz. In the 1950s and '60s Scott invented and recorded with electronic instruments. He was a genre-hopper, reflecting a musical restlessness and adventurousness. Scott loved what he did, but craved what came next.

As archivist for the Scott musical estate, I commissioned three remix artists to take apart Scott's catalog and reshape it in a fresh way. The Bran Flakes (Otis Fodder, Montreal), The Evolution Control Committee (TradeMark Gunderson, U.S.), and Go Home Productions (Mark Vidler, U.K.) were ftp'ed hundreds of Scott recordings in various genres, including unreleased material, spanning the 1930s to the 1980s. They were invited to have fun, but keep it rhythmic. Each contributed six audio montages with new titles, and they collaborated on Scott's signature tune, "Powerhouse."

The result is RAYMOND SCOTT REWIRED, produced for the Basta label. The album will be released in North America on February 18. Three tracks can be streamed on Soundcloud.

Over 250 sample sources were used in the construction of these 19 tracks. Those samples were edited, looped, flipped, and stretched; they were tweaked with EQ, pitch-shifted, compressed, and transformed. Disassembling one man's sonic legacy and reassembling the pieces into something different, something worth hearing repeatedly, requires an intuitive gift that approaches songwriting. Scott fans will recognize some passages, but in countless cases, the source recordings have been altered beyond recognition. The composer himself would have difficulty identifying his own works. The reconfigurations were done playfully, but respectfully. Nothing was destroyed. The originals still exist.

The cover art was adapted from an unfinished, untitled, black & white Jim Flora illustration from the 1950s.


  1. Give DJ Spooky, Venetian Snare, and POGO a crack at his catalogue.

  2. Can we hear the originals someday?