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Mort Garson - The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey CD (album) cover

THE WOZARD OF IZ: AN ELECTRONIC ODYSSEY

Mort Garson

 

Progressive Electronic

3.97 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

clarke2001
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ''Kansas City (...) a place where people throw rocks at dreams, and the dreams shouldn't be stoned... only the dreamer.''

The most spaced-out hippie stuff you can encounter. In many ways, this record is astonishing.

Down to the bone, it's some sort of a radio-drama (spoken words) with layers of synth-generated sound effects and melodies, with a few musical numbers. But it would be injustice to dismiss it easily, since it's groundbreaking in many ways.

First of all, the story itself is a skewed version of ''The Wizard Of Oz'', overloaded with hippie angst, political recourse, drug allegories and humour. Several people participated in the roles, the narrator being Jacques Wilson, the author of the whole concept (Garson did the music, but not the actual plot).

Musically, there's a plethora of noodlings, bleeps and burps to back up the narration. All sounds are exclusively produced with a synthesizer, if there are any traces of other instruments, I was not able to trace them.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the record (apart from being ahead its time) is its musicality. Those sound effects are not thrown in randomly as unsubstantial piles of various tones and noises. Yes, there are moments that can be compared to academic avant-garde musicians of the century - such is Stockhausen - but I'm wondering from which of those old maestri Garson picked influence, if at all. This is rooted in rock and marked with a lysergic mark all over the place. There are melodies - moreover - some incredible hooks, and a couple of tunes in a strict sense. There are bits that remind me of THE RESIDENTS and their works few years later; there's 'Never Follow The Yellow Green Road', which fuses funky electronic bass hook with a choir of female vocals in 60's soul style -- transfer this one into the early 2000's and you got an instant four-to-the-floor electronic dance hit!!! There are also beautiful (if a bit underdeveloped) 'I've Been Over the Rainbow' and 'Big Sur'; lovely songs with synth arpeggio emulating bassoons and electric organ and female vocal that came straight from the mellowest, dreamiest depths of West Coast, dream pop and psychedelia!!

I must point out Garson's skill great skill in producing the sound out of the synth: those big old bulky Moog Modular systems were beautiful and versatile machines, but unstable: it was a hell to keep them in tune. Garson is brilliantly avoiding such problems applying all sorts of bendings and resonances, glissandi, running sequences with smooth pitch shifts, and clever application of noise bursts (hiss) on sequencer to produce rhythmical patterns. Such an approach won't became old-fashioned until the dawn of useful drum-machines in late 70's/early 80's. He's also avoiding the monophonic properties of his machines by stacking oscillators on various frequencies, producing a one-key chord (a thing often used by Emerson, Wakeman and others), but he is never overdoing it. As for the more MUSICAL moments of the record...it's bordering on unbelievable.

This record struck me deeply - remember it was done in 1968 - the electronic pioneers in Europe won't reach a degree of coherency for a couple of years more. Now I'm deeply interested to further check pioneers of electronic music from the New World - the place where the very concept of the synthesizer (as we know it today) was born.

Well-deserved four stars. Highly recommended. Far out, man.

clarke2001 | 4/5 |

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