Various Artists

Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds

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The dozen signs of the Zodiac are ruminated upon during the pseudo-psychedelic Cosmic Sounds. This embarrassingly dated "concept" album was issued in late 1967 on Elektra Records . The recording -- replete with equally absurd cover art -- helped usher in the "age of Aquarius." Judging by the astrological psycho babble in these grooves, it may too have been the age of excess. But what should one expect from an album whose caveat reads "Must Be Played In The Dark"? Cosmic Sounds narrator Cyrus Faryar's other credits include proficiencies as a bouzouki player, bassist, guitarist, and sometimes vocalist for a plethora of diverse artists, namely Dave Guard & the Whiskeyhill Singers and the Modern Folk Quartet, as well as guest spots on albums by Mama Cass Elliot, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Buffalo Springfield, Fred Neil, and even the Firesign Theatre. Faryar animates Jacques Wilson's suitably antiquated '60s hippie prose, depicting the various characteristics unique to the 12 respective zodiac insignias. Backing Faryar's narration is a loosely corralled and completely unnamed aggregate of L.A. session all-stars and Wrecking Crew regulars: Carol Kaye (bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Bud Shank (bass flute), and Emil Richards (percussion) -- who often performs several different instruments during the same song. Along with some heavy-handed contributions from Moog synth guru Paul Beaver, the band churn out a series of non-descript ersatz rock melodies -- the likes of which might have been as incidental fodder for an episode of Dragnet or from any of the late-'60s hippie/biker flicks such as Psych-Out or Hells Angels on Wheels. The cinematic style comes via the talents of Juliard-trained pop composer/arranger/conductor Mort Garson -- who may be best remembered for his collaborations with Doris Day, Glen Campbell, Rod McKuen, and Mel Tormé. Pretensions aside, Cosmic Sounds is a definitive timepiece and nostalgic relic reflecting the heavy marketability in the so-called "counterculture" youth movement of the late '60s. Taken at face value, it righteously succeeds.

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