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Cosmic Sounds - The Zodiac

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"Must be played in the dark"

The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds (also known, less correctly, as either The Zodiac by Cosmic Sounds, or Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac - the sleevenotes were unclear) was a collaborative concept album on the theme of the signs of the Zodiac. It was issued by Elektra Records in May 1967 and featured early use of the Moog synthesizer by Paul Beaver, with music written by Mort Garson, words by Jacques Wilson, and narration by Cyrus Faryar. It has been variously described as "a wonderful period piece" and "apt to inspire more giggle fits than stoned, pull-the-shades-down reveries"

The idea began in 1967 with Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra Records, which had just gained major success with The Doors' debut album. Holzman had the initial concept for the album, and hired Alex Hassilev, a member of The Limeliters, to produce it. Hassilev in turn brought in Mort Garson, with whom he had just formed a production company, to write the music. Hassilev and Garson had planned to do a series of concepts following Cosmic Sounds. Garson wrote music for one of the other intended albums, The Sea, but Rod McKuen, who was supposed to have been on the project, left and did his own version with Anita Kerr. Hassilev temporarily left the project to produce The Dusk 'Till Dawn Orchestra's Sea Drift album, which incorporated part of The Sea's intended theme.

Garson brought together a mixture of musicians, most of whom were not credited on the album sleeve. Musician and electronic instrument collector Paul Beaver, who had done music effects for films, was chosen to perform on the Moog synthesizer on the album since he was one of the few people on the West Coast who knew how to set up and use the synthesizer at the time. Beaver and Moog went to the California Audio Engineering Society convention in 1967 to showcase the Moog Synthesizer for the first time on the West Coast. Emil Richards, who had worked with such musicians as Frank Zappa, Marvin Gaye and Henry Mancini, was chosen to provide an assortment of percussive instrumental surprises throughout the album. Bassist Carol Kaye and drummer Hal Blaine, both top on-demand session musicians, were The Zodiac's rhythm section. Bud Shank, a top flute performer, and keyboardist Mike Melvoin were also used. Jacques Wilson wrote the album's narration, and folk singer Cyrus Faryar was chosen (suggested by Hassilev) to narrate over the album's exotic instrumentation.

The album was released in May 1967. The sleeve, by artist Abe Gurvin and art director William S. Harvey (who had worked together at Nonesuch Records), featured a florid psychedelic design. On the back, in large purple letters, were written the instructions: "Must be played in the dark".

In the liner notes for the 1997 Moody Blues compilation The Best of the Moody Blues, Justin Hayward named this album as an influence on the band's development going into Days of Future Passed.




Track Listings:
    A1 Aries - The Fire-Fighter 3:17
    A2 Taurus - The Voluptuary 3:38
    A3 Gemini - The Cool Eye 2:50
    A4 Cancer - The Moon Child 3:27
    A5 Leo - The Lord Of Lights 2:30
    A6 Virgo - The Perpetual Perfectionist 3:05
    B1 Libra - The Flower Child 3:28
    B2 Scorpio - The Passionate Hero 2:51
    B3 Sagittarius - The Versatile Daredevil 2:06
    B4 Capricorn - The Uncapricious Climber 3:30
    B5 Aquarius - The Lover Of Life 3:45
    B6 Pisces - The Peace Piper 3:19
Total Time: 38:25
Artist Name(s):
Cyrus Faryar – narration
Paul Beaver – Moog and other electronic instruments
Emil Richards – exotic percussion
Bud Shank – bass flute
Hal Blaine – drums
Carol Kaye – bass guitar
Mike Melvoin – keyboards
Music written by Mort Garson
Producer(s):
Alex Hassilev
Release Year: 1967
Style:
Experimental, Space Rock
Album Type:
Studio
Formats:
Compact Disc, LP 33 1/3
Cover & Packge Design:
Abe Gurvin, William S. Harvey
Engineer(s): Jim Lockert
Liscense:
Copyright
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
Red Elektra label
Catalog Number(s):
EKS-74009
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
Sources
Editions / Reissues
  1. Elektra EKL-4009 US 1967
  2. FID Sound FID 32 Unknown
  3. Elektra EKS-74009 US 1967
  4. Elektra K42013 UK Unknown
  5. Elektra EKS 74 009, EKS-74 009 Germany 1968
Synthesizers Used
Album Locator
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