Samuel J. Hoffman

Music out of the Moon

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Prior to the 1947 release of Music out of the Moon (a 78 rpm album, just preceding the introduction of the LP format), Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman had already contributed theremin to a few film soundtracks and records. Music out of the Moon, however, was the first recording with Hoffman's theremin aimed toward the popular music market. It was a pretty good seller, too, the music composed by Harry Revel and conducted and arranged by Les Baxter. Revel concocted half a dozen circa-three-minute pieces with lunar themes -- "Lunar Rhapsody," "Moon Moods," "Celestial Nocturne," et al. -- though the music, removed outside of its own era at any rate, was far more evocative of mainstream late-'40s lounge jazz and soundtrack music than cosmic meditation. The one far-out element, again more in the context of its time than to future generations of listeners, was Hoffman's occasional interjection of wavering, eerie theremin, though modern listeners might casually mistake it for a strange violin rather than a futuristic electronic device. There's plenty of jazzy vocal scatting and melodramatic soundtrack orchestration, though "Moon Moods" adds some Les Paul-ish jazzy guitar and creepy organ, and "Mist o' the Moon"'s piano and vibes verge on bop. The music from Music out of the Moon has been reissued several times, most effectively on the 2004 Rev-Ola CD Waves in the Ether: The Magical World of the Theremin, which also includes two subsequent, similar albums on which Hoffman played theremin (1948's Perfume Set to Music and 1950's Music for Peace of Mind).

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