His most notably sidekicks include the Beatspinner Wheel of Sister Spinster, as well as the giant Hornicator, which he's been known to drink through.
The eccentric was once challenged to show how he makes an instrument. Given many items retrieved from a recycle bin, within 15 minutes he created a rhythmic invention which he looped through effects with water and rubber bands.
Here are Thomas' choices:
This is one of my favourite songs, and in a way it illustrates what I'm talking about. Don't work on your computer while you listen to it, sit back and close your eyes and really listen to the narrative and let the music and words take you on their circular ride.
It comes from a time when people did such things. It's beautifully simple and it's worth your full attention. This song puts a smile on my heart.
If you have the original 7", you'll notice that the B-SIDE is 'Perfect Day'. Yes, it's THAT good that another all-time-classic is only the B-Side. In 1972 a mainstream hit with references to transsexuals, male prostitution and so on, well, talk about sockin' it to the man...
Raymond Scott's had a huge influence on me, probably since before I was even aware of it, watching cartoons as a kid. (Carl Stalling often unfairly gets the credit because Scott's tunes were licensed to him and then Stalling's name appeared on the cartoon credits for 'music'). Powerhouse just rules.
What can I say? It just transcends the realm of such things as a best songs list. Soul soothing.
This is a timeless, haunting song. There are lyrics (there's a great Betsy Brye version) but when I heard them I thought I already heard/knew them all in the instrumental version, because the guitar sings them. Or maybe it's John Barry's 'Born Free' which is pretty much the same melody/progression.
I think the song itself clearly describes all you need to know.
I love Alice Donut like a parent finds their own ugly baby beautiful. I discovered them the way local bands used to be discovered: a xeroxed flyer with their logo, maybe made with a sharpie, wheat pasted to a lamppost (or some illegal surface) on Avenue A in NYC.
For me after decades this song is still really exciting and full of deep layers of mystery and a real dreamlike atmosphere. This band has been so widely influential by now that it's a little bit like David Lynch movies: they were startlingly unique when they arrived, but ubiquitous stylistic imitators have made their impact - though still considerable - less distinct. When I first heard it, it was not quite like anything I'd ever heard before.