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MORT GARSON

Progressive Electronic • Canada


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Mort Garson biography
Born in New Brunswick Mort Garson was a classical trained musician and electronic researcher. During his career he was mainly known for his original sci-fi space agey soundscapes. He started his career back in the 60's and was among the first to experiment the Big Moog synthesiser. In 1967 he recorded his first album "The Zodiak: Cosmic sounds". It features sonic analog based compositions. Released during the late 60's "Electronic air pieces" contains supernatural electronic moods, pulsating hypnotic effects and moving synthesised textures. Mort Garson's musical universe is closed to Cecil Leuter, Jean Jacques Perrey kitchy moog pop soundscapes but within more mystical-cerebral-adventurous proportions. Published in 1971, "Black Mass" is without any doubts his most progressive album: lysergic electronic modulations meet dark epic timbres. Among the most notorious canadian space electronic artists with David Pritchard and Philip Werren.

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Wozard of IzWozard of Iz
Import
El Records 2008
Audio CD$8.73
$8.69 (used)
Signs of the Zodiac: CancerSigns of the Zodiac: Cancer
A&M
Vinyl$22.49
$9.99 (used)
Electronic Hair PiecesElectronic Hair Pieces
A&M
Vinyl$27.00 (used)
Taurus- Signs of the Zodiac: narrated by Nancy PriddyTaurus- Signs of the Zodiac: narrated by Nancy Priddy
A & M Records
Vinyl$9.99 (used)
drum tango / gas light village 45 rpm singledrum tango / gas light village 45 rpm single
TODD
Vinyl$5.00 (used)
love sounds LPlove sounds LP
LIBERTY
Vinyl$25.00 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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MORT GARSON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MORT GARSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.97 | 7 ratings
The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey
1968
3.00 | 1 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Aries
1969
3.00 | 1 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Leo
1969
3.00 | 2 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Cancer
1969
3.00 | 2 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Virgo
1969
3.40 | 7 ratings
Electronic Hair Pieces
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Sagittarius
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Libra
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Capricorn
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Taurus
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Gemini
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Scorpio
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Signs of the Zodiac: Aquarius
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sings of the Zodiac: Pisces
1969
3.14 | 5 ratings
Black Mass [as Lucifer]
1971
3.00 | 1 ratings
Music For Sensuous Lovers by Z (as Z)
1971
3.91 | 2 ratings
The Unexplained: Electronic Musical Impressions of the Occult by Ataraxia (As Ataraxia)
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mother Earth's Plantasia
1976

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MORT GARSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Signs of the Zodiac: Virgo by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Signs of the Zodiac: Virgo
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars Another of a 12 LP series Mort Garson recorded with the help of voice actors, this one focuses on Virgo, which happens to be my sign. As with all albums in this series, you get treated with nice electronic music played on a modular Moog from Mort Garson, and help from Nancy Priddy, John Erwin, and Michael Bell, voice actors of note. Nancy Priddy being the mother of Christina Applegate of Married... With Children (Priddy was also a folksinger, apparently), John Erwin was later the voice of Morris the Cat (and it's easy to tell on this 1969 recording) and even in the 1980s as the voice of He-Man on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Micheal Bell, later a voice actor for computer games as well as various cartoons in the 1970s and 1980s.

"I Know You Virgo" has the narrators voicing their opinions on how a Virgo is like. "Virgo at Work" gives you advice when working, if you have "such and such" personality, don't hire a Virgo. "Where Was Your Moon?" tells you how a Virgo is like when born under a certain moon (that is, day and year). The LP even includes a moon chart, covering the years 1919 to 1960, which leaves me a bit high and dry, given I was born in September 6, 1972, luckily you have the Internet to see which moon you were born, and for me, I'm a Virgo born under the moon in Leo, so I have to listen when the narrator brings up the moon in Leo. "In Love, Virgo?" obviously gives you advice on love and romance and which signs you should better try if you broke up. "Those Who Know" are narrators giving quotes from famous people on the subject of astrology. This cut is included on all 12 LPs.

I don't know if you want all 12 of these LPs (you can't get them on CD, as they were never reissued), but if you're into astrology and Moog, these albums are worth trying.

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 The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.97 | 7 ratings

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The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Looks like Mort Garson was really on a roll at the end of the '60s. You got The Wozard of Iz, then Electronic Hair Pieces, and apparently the exact same time, the 12-LP series Signs of the Zodiac (each LP on a different sign, sold separately). The Wozard of Iz is very much a product of the late '60s and the hippie movement, done by an already middle-aged guy, Canadian expat (residing in the States) Mort Garson, a guy old enough to be the "establishment" that the hippies and counterculture wanted nothing to do with (the rather naive "don't trust anyone over 30", when a few of their icons were over 30, like Abbie Hoffman, and Timothy Leary was quite a bit older than Hoffman, old enough to be the father of the hippies - ironically I could see that "don't trust anyone over 30" crowd circa 1978 when they turned 30 and how they reacted! I could also go on that Spencer Dryden of Jefferson Airplane turned 30 in 1968, Grace Slick turned 30 the next year in 1969, Ray Manzarek of the Doors turned 30 in 1969, showing examples how some of their icons turned 30 before the '60s ended. And one last thing, Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy was almost as old as Timothy Leary!).

One thing that needed to get cleared. For years it's been rumored that Suzy Jane Hokum (who did some of the narration on this album) was Nancy Sinatra. No, she was a separate person. The reason for the confusion was Suzy Jane Hokum (actually Suzi Jane Hokom) too had recorded with Lee Hazelwood, she too did a version of "Summer Wine" with him, but it was the version with Nancy Sinatra that became the hit and people are more familiar with. Hokom was a staffer at LHI Production, an enterprise ran by Hazelwood.

The Wozard of Iz was very much a product of its time. The Moog was a brand new invention, so I'm certain Mort Garson was learning as he was going on programming and playing the synth, learning its quirks and limitations (polyphonic synths wouldn't be for another few years, so this required lots of overdubbing, as well as manipulation of the multiple oscillators that it featured). Here he takes the Wizard of Oz, gives it a totally psychedelic synth make over, and gives it a counterculture theme, which is hardly subtle, and the veiled references to real life places and people weren't really all that veiled, it was so obvious to anyone who knew about the 1960s. Canvas City was Kansas City (thought of as a generic Midwestern city), Lemon County was Orange County, California (a conservative bastion that the counterculture avoided, it's largely suburban), Robert Squelch (Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society), the Upset Strip (the Sunset Strip, which was famous for a youth riot in 1966 that inspired Stephen Stills to write "For What It's Worth" for Buffalo Springfield), the only place not veiled was Big Sur. So you get Dorothy, and several characters that are conformist, unable to think for themselves, materialistic, and status quo-obsessed with The In-Man, the Lyin' Coward, and the Scared-Crow.

"Leave the Driving to Us" features probably the earliest use of sequencers that I know of (a sequencer was built into the modular Moog), it almost reminds me of a slowed-down version of Pink Floyd's "On the Run" (which too used a sequencer, but that sequencer was an EMS AKS, basically a Synthi A with a membrane sequencer keyboard). "Upset Strip" really features some nice melodies, Dorothy being warned to avoid the Upset Strip (because of riots, just like the real life Sunset Strip in 1966). "Never Follow the Yellow Green Road" might not be to everyone's liking. It has a very much Broadway musical feel to it, the big differences are being the Moog synthesizer is the only instrument used, and the lyrics having anti-establishment themes. They warn Dorothy not to follow this Yellow Green Road (as it's the middle of the road, representing conformity, and the narrator tells you Ferlenghetti books aren't read there, nor Warhol films played there, guaranteeing your mind won't be blown). "The Scared Crow" is a materialistic character obsessed with status, "The In-Man" is obsessed with charts and statics, while "The Lyin' Coward" is incapable of telling the truth (which was obviously a potshot at politicians). "They're Off the Find the Wozard" and the mellow "Big Sur" sounds like an electronic version of the Association (that vocal style that seems so common with L.A. bands of the time associated with "sunshine pop"). "I've Have Been Over the Rainbow" sounds amazingly like The United States of America (as in Joe Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz), but using a Moog rather than some home made prototype electronic device. Even Suzy Jane Hokum sounds like Dorothy Moskowitz. This album really is all over the place, from highly experimental electronic sounds effects that sounds like something Nik Raicevic would do to electronic Broadway musical to Association-type sunshine pop with Moog instead of pop/rock instruments. Some of it's cheesy, some of it's great, but that's what you get when you listen to a Mort Garson Moog album. I love this album, but the Klaus Schulze, Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream crowd (or should I say, those preferring electronic music in that 1970s serious manner) might stay away, but those who want to hear an early Moog album that's not renditions of classical favorites (a la Switched-On Bach) or pop hits of the day would want this.

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 The Unexplained: Electronic Musical Impressions of the Occult by Ataraxia (As Ataraxia) by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.91 | 2 ratings

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The Unexplained: Electronic Musical Impressions of the Occult by Ataraxia (As Ataraxia)
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars To me I think Mort Garson is one of the great synthesizer pioneers, although a lot of it got bogged down by cheesy narration and dated subject matter such as The Zodiac - Cosmic Sounds, The Wozard of Iz and the Signs of the Zodiac series (which actually, I don't have a problem with, though many do), so you often had to tune out the narration to hear the brilliant music within. Luckily he did a few all instrumental Moog albums, like Lucifer - Black Mass and it's natural followup The Unexplained, which is the album I'm reviewing here. As usual, his name is not emphasized on his albums, you usually never see his name on the front cover, and this time it's no exception, he was going by Ataraxia for this particular project. Unsurprisingly this also sounds like that natural followup to Black Mass. To me, this is an even better album, although still trippy, he wasn't doing trippy sounds effects for sound effects sake and often took a bit more of a melodic approach, although it's not like he's heading in Jean Michel Jarre territory here. He only released one more Moog album, Plantasia in 1976, and I don't believe he recorded anything more like this. Certainly The Unexplained is a great album of electronic music, and even if you were put off by some of his other releases (for reasons explained near the beginning of this review), this still comes highly recommended!

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 Signs of the Zodiac: Cancer by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Signs of the Zodiac: Cancer
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars Obviously inspired by the 1967 Elektra album The Zodiac Cosmic Sounds, Mort Garson (which he hand a hand in that album) released a 12 LP set (each sold separately) called Signs of the Zodiac, in which Cancer was one of them. This was the first in the series I bought. Imagine if Cosmic Sounds was recorded exclusively with synthesizer and narrators, this is what you get. It's really not much different from Mort Garson's previous project, The Wozard of Iz, except the music does not give this electronic psychedelic Broadway play vibe as sometimes that album did. What you get is a more relaxed, spacy vibe. Narrations are from Nancy Priddy, mother of Christina Applegate of Married... With Children, John Erwin, voice of Morris the Cat (I can tell it's him on this album, and the others in the series, of course), and Michael Bell, who did voice overs for computer games. So obviously you'll be hearing their narration throughout, describing, in the case, the personality traits of Cancer, how a Cancer behaves at work, how they handle personal relationships, and so on. Of course, many listeners might have trouble with the narrations, as it can come across as dated, but what really matters is the synth scores that go with it. He proves that he was able to make some great, original electronic music at a time when the Moog synthesizer was basically a new invention, and the likes of Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, and Klaus Schulze were some years away (well, maybe not Tangerine Dream, they did release Electronic Meditation in 1970, but it was Krautrock, but their full-on synth-dominated electronic phase didn't start until 1974 with Phaedra). I can understand that some people would like it better if the narrations were removed, but of course that would defeat the purpose, since these albums were on the Signs of the Zodiac, but on the other hand, I can understand why some would want to hear just the music and not the narration. But I don't find the narrations any worse than The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds or The Wozard of Iz. "I Know You Cancer" shows that nice relaxed spacy vibe. "Cancer at Work" is more melodic, although some might find it a bit cheesy, but I like it. "Where Was Your Moon?" sounds more like electronic snippets, but I like the timbres he gets off the Moog, a lot of it spacy. "Cancer - Numbers, Gems, and Colors" starts off with a blues-like riff played off a Moog, before getting into more spacy territory. "Those Who Knew" is the closing, and it's used on each and every LP, making me wished it was used only on one of the LPs, on the other hand, it sounded like there wasn't enough material to fill up the whole LP so "Those Who Knew" was tagged on.

To me, it's a nice album to have, and glad to own it.

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 Electronic Hair Pieces by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.40 | 7 ratings

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Electronic Hair Pieces
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Since this was released in '69, Electronic Hair Pieces' heavily dated sound is understandable and passable, but most people nowadays I'm sure would mistake this as the long lost soundtrack to the original Pokemon games on Gameboy. To be fair, those soundtracks were fairly awesome.

In an era where a lot of electronic music was inaccessible with strong leanings toward the avant-garde side of things (Shostakovich, Schnitzler, Parmegiani, etc.), Mort Garson had created this reasonably accessible and poppy collection of synth tunes that is comparable to Cluster's pre-electro-pop masterpiece Zuckerzeit.

Each track on this album is short, averaging between 2 and 4 minutes, and display a very mechanical, robotic sense of melody but can be easily hummed. To be honest, considering that this album predates a lot of electronic pop music, I'd say that the melodies and overall structure of these catchy songs are rather sophisticated, even if the time period's technology results in a cheap, outdated sound.

Electronic Hair Pieces is relatively diverse too. Some tracks are lightly jazzy like "Walking in Space" and "Easy to Be Hard", some are forceful pre-dance music tunes such as "Hair", there is even an exotic quality like found on "Let the Sunshine In", but most of the album sounds like electronic-noir pop compositions.

It's a shame that Mort Garson remains relatively obscure because I'm confident that fans of electronic music or general instrumental pop music would find this album to be both accessible and sophisticated enough to warrant repeated listens. Especially, for anyone out there who enjoys Cluster's Zuckerzeit, then Mort Garson's Electronic Hair Pieces is a must have.

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 Electronic Hair Pieces by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.40 | 7 ratings

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Electronic Hair Pieces
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by Sheavy
Collaborator Progressive Electronic Team

3 stars As far as early 60's/70's Moog explorations go, this is an average release. Mort Garson is an early electronic muscian from Canada that didn't seem to be able to concentrate on one project before he went to another. This is technically his sole release, as Black Mass, An Electronic Journey, and Plantasia were all released under a different moniker.

All the songs here are very "shiny" and "bright", but not in the same way as Kraftwerk's work. Theres plenty of lttle bleeps and Moog washes and some very spacey sounds are conjured up here and there. It sounds terribly dated, which doesn't tend to bother me at all, but it hurts this record greatly. It sounds more suited to being used in a movie than being listened to. some of the songs are somewhat catchy, like the song Hair, with some lines that really get stuck in your head. But aside from the songs Hair, Walking In Space and Let The Sunshine In, this is a good but unexciting record.

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 Black Mass [as Lucifer] by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.14 | 5 ratings

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Black Mass [as Lucifer]
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch

3 stars Yeehaa! good old Mort - hey wait a minute , Mort means 'dead' doesn't it?

Garson produced this super Moog album which sounds no-where near as bleak and black as the title and cover may suggest. You've got to love him... Did he seriously think this was Satanic in any way? It's almost like the soundtrack to a kid's 7th birthday party. Jelly, ice cream and a glass of milk anyone?

An accessible purely electronic album from '71 that sounds quite a lot like many other artists who were going bananas with this new fangled Moog instrument. Mine's an old crackly record and I don't even think it's ever been released on cd.

The great thing is - these are all his own recordings, unlike most Moog players from the era who stole and plagiarised other peoples tunes at that time.

Slightly boring in parts, but things always quickly pick up. One of the better Moog albums which always remains on the correct side of cheesiness . I should know, I've heard plenty of them and most are embarrassing beyond belief.

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 The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey by GARSON, MORT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.97 | 7 ratings

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The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey
Mort Garson Progressive Electronic

Review by 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.

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