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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds CD (album) cover

THE ZODIAC : COSMIC SOUNDS

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

 

Various Genres

3.85 | 18 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds" is a collaborative concept album on the theme of the signs of the Zodiac released by Elektra Records in November 1967. The basic idea for the album came from head of Elektra Records Jac Holzman. The idea was fueled by the grand commercial succes of the debut album by The Doors which was also released on Elektra Records.Jac Holzman hired Alex Hassilev (The Limeliters) to produce the album. Alex Hassilev asked Mort Garson, whom he had a production company with, to compose the music for the album and the lyrics were written by Jacques Wilson. Different session musicians were brought in to contribute to the recordings most notably Paul Beaver who played Moog and other electronic instruments and narrator Cyrus Faryar.

According to Alex Hassilev the album was recorded in about four sessions but Cyrus Faryarīs recitation of the poems (the lyrics) and the recording of the moog parts were done at another time and then overdubbed. All parts of the tracks were played/recitated and recorded live though except the moog parts. A rather stressful task for percussionist Emil Richards who according to Hassilev had to run around in the studio to play his many different percussion instruments (according to Richards he owned over 700 diferent ones).

The "The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds" album is generally considered to be one of the first commercial albums to feature the use of the moog synthesizer. Itīs not the first though. But the moog that was used for the recording of the album actually had to be rented as nobody on the US West Coast scene had started to work with the moog yet. Hassilev had heard about the instrument and went to the Audio Engineering Society convention to meet Robert Moog (the inventer of the moog) and to check out the moog. After being very impressed by what he heard, he hired the demonstration model which was the only existing one in that part of the country at the time. The instrument turned out to be quite the challenge though as there were problems with keeping it in tune (the oscillators were unstable and the instrument had to be warmed up before use). So the recording of the moog parts proved difficult.

The music on the album is psychadelic rock with lots of spacy moog sounds, loads of different percussion instruments, West Coast guitar blues rock riffs, Harpsichord and organ. On top of that thereīs the recitation of poems by folk singer Cyrus Faryar (whose voice is very similar to the voice of Jim Morrison). Thereīs no singing on the album only recitation of poems on the theme of the signs of the Zodiac. Thereīs a mystic aura about the album that some might find cool and others will probably find tacky/kitchy. There are 12 tracks on the album each named after the 12 Zodiac signs and the lyrics (which are rather strange) reflect the theme.

The musicianship on the album is impeccable. Itīs easy to hear that these musicians are all experienced session musicians. So donīt expect drug induced sloppy playing. This is psychadelic rock but the musicians behind the project werenīt necessarily into this kind of music. Thatīs of course a paradox that many will probably complain about and I fully understand the objection but that doesnīt mean I canīt enjoy the music without prejudice.

The sound production is very professional, organic, warm and well sounding. A quality sound production considering the album was recorded in 1967. Itīs a great deal more polished than most other psychadelic rock albums of that era, which is probably due to the background history of the album (a pre-fabricated product backed up by a label boss and played by session musicians). If you listen without prejudice, "The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds" is still quite a great psychadelic rock release with a captivating atmosphere and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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