Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mort Garson - rip

Canadian Electronic Musician Mort Garson passed on at the age of 83 on January 4th in San Fransisco. His records from the 60s and 70s are some of the best Moog Synth music ever made. Here is a cult classic for you all to enjoy. Rest well Mort.

Lucifer (Mort Garson)
Black Mass

The concept of this album showed the Moog delivering sounds sinister and exciting to a degree the lurid horror films of the day never matched. All the titles related to occult phenomenons and themes, and seemed to focus mainly on the darker side of occultism. With it's breakbeats galore, intense synthesizer, hip original themes, this was really a unifying concept. An occult Moog-album! The man behind this recording was a somewhat obscure solo artist; Mort Garson.

Mort Grason was born in Canada in 1924, as a graduate from the Juilliard School, he began writing musical scores in the 1940s, and worked as an arranger / composer / engineer in the late 1940s / early 1950s. He got highly acclaimed as the orchestral arranger for Glen Campbell's 1968 "By The Time I Get To Phoenix". Garson also had production credits on records by vocalists and other artists, including Mel Torme, Doris Day, Ed Ames, and Leslie Uggams. He wrote, arranged, and directed for many years on many labels in many styles. He also made music for TV and movies. But he recorded some albums too, each more strange than the other.

According to a Robert Moog (inventor of the Moog) interview, he told that when he was showcasing his instrument at an expo, Garson (even then in his mid-40's) and an assortment of crazed geniuses decided to use it, among other electronic instruments to make a psychedelic pop / rock / spoken word concept album which turned out to be the first usage of the Moog on a commercial pop record from the West Coast. This was the album Zodiac Cosmic Sounds, recorded together with Jacques Wilson in 1967. It consisted of twelve "songs" composed as a suite on the twelve signs of the zodiac and where accompanied by Paul Beaver on electronic keyboards, including the Moog synthesizer. That same year Garson wrote and arranged another little masterpiece, the single credited to the Big Game Hunters.
Next album Electronic Hair Pieces from 1969 used the Moog to arrange some well-known pop hits. His third album was the electronic masterpiece The Wozard of Iz (also from 1969) sets to (Moog) music a socio-political satire built around the children's classic (Bernie Krause on "environmental sounds" and Nancy Sinatra as a co-narrator). His passion for the Moog took him to compose entire albums for A&M of music for each zodiacal sign(!) that predated new-age music by a decade: Signs of the Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagitarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

But he also made another record in 1971, which was very different. Under the devilish pseudonym "Lucifer", Garson released this record: Lucifer - Black Mass. It had his wildest hodgepodge of electronic sounds. Little is known about this release though.
The same year, after the Black Mass album, Garson released a not-occult album called Music For Sensual Lovers in collaboration with performance-artist "Z", which contained moody Moog music accompanied by the wonderful screaming and orgasmic moans of a porn star(!). Then, four years passed, before Mort Garson returned with another occult-themed Moog record; Ataraxia - The Unexplained in 1975...

Black Mass


Christopher O said...

As always, good stuff. Dark rooms.

FM SHADES is in my blog's 2007 year in review thingy...

and here's my vinyl/mp3 blog....

You're linked in both.

Keep it up with the good posts! Always interesting. said...

hey i've been following your blog for a while now but this is the first time i've commented. I've really enjoyed a lot of the albums you've posted. I'm 16, so this is like a whole new world to me and I wouldn't have access to it any other way, so I am very grateful for your efforts. My favorite albums have been definitely been Parameter, Jakob Olausson, Wicked Lady,THE INDEX!!!!, and Destroy all Monsters. You've also turned me on to Joe Meek and the Sun City Girls. Without you i never would stumbled across any of this music, and i would be less of what i am now. To be honest a lot of the stuff i've downloaded from blogs has been crap, but when you come across that song, that special song that speaks to you, the song that transcends it's humble age and obscurity, it just floors you. It's amazing how the same feelings inspired music back then, just as they do now. I really look forward to whatever you bring us in the future, and i'm very thankful for what you've done in the past. It usually takes a while for me to find the time to listen to the records but i'll try to comment as much as possible in the future.

zappahead said...

I have the Wozard of Iz album but never heard of this one.....that "porn" one sounds hillarious but I think Ill stick with this one for the time being...I thank you very much.

bilyahn said...

Dude, thank you soo much. Despaired of ever finding this again, had it in my collection that my Mom sold for a buck an album!