Music from Patch Cord Productions
Music From Patch Cord Productions collates a selection of rarities, curios and versions from the annals of cult synthesiser music composer Mort Garson. Some of the pieces here are drawn from works that Garson released during his lifetime. ‘Theme From Music For Sensuous Lovers Part I’ is a churning synthscape that Garson wrote as a quasi-accompaniment to 1969 book The Sensuous Woman; ‘Son Of Blob Theme’ is a charming piece of sci-fi whimsy taken from a 1972 film; there are alternate takes of cuts from Garson’s beloved Mother Earth’s Plantasia LP, an early classic of discreet music which has continued to gather fans in the years since its 1976 release (particularly in the wake of a 2019 reissue from Sacred Bones).
Other numbers on Music From Patch Cord Productions offer the listener insight into Garson’s creative practice. For instance, there is some confusion as to whether the ‘Music For Advertising’ tracks included here were ever actually used in commercials, or if Garson simply set himself the task of composing music which might one day be used to sell something. Either way, these miniature synthesiser symphonies are superb examples of Garson’s endlessly inventive craft and a belief in how the otherworldly tones of the Moog might shape the musical future. It’s an approach which places him alongside fellow synthesiser music pioneers Jean-Michel Jarre, John Carpenter and Suzanne Ciani.
This Sacred Bones compilation Music From Patch Cord Productions stands as a testament to the weird and wonderful sonic worlds that early electronic composer Mort Garson was able to conjure from his Moog instrument.
Didn't You Hear?
Esteemed early synthesiser musician Mort Garson (Mother Earth’s Plantasia) composed Didn’t You Hear? for Skip Sherwood’s 1970 film of the same name, in the process coming up with one of the first film scores to be made entirely with electronic instrumentation. At the time the album was only available to purchase in the lobbies of theatres showing the movie, but despite its rarity Didn’t You Hear? is a crucial piece of the Garson puzzle, the combination of melodious keyboard work and impressionistic synthesiser exploration setting the tone for the pioneering work Garson would create in the next few years of his career.
Working heavily with one of the Moog machines which, at the time, were changing the course of musical history, Garson’s pieces here are at once highly melodious and also eerie and mysterious. While numbers like ‘Walk To The Other Side Of The Island’ and ‘Jeep Ride’ have a bouncy jauntiness about them, cuts such as ‘Bamboo City’ prefigure the more outlandish, proto-industrial tonal experiments Garson would undertake on the Black Mass LP that he would issue under the name of Lucifer a year after Didn’t You Hear?.
Perhaps the most enticing tracks of all on Didn't You Hear? are the moments in which Garson collaborates with vocalist Tom Muncrief. On the title-track and ‘End Title’ number we find Garson’s ornate Moog work elevated to new heights by Muncrief’s wistful tenor. It makes for a hugely evocative combination which chimes with the aesthetic that a young David Lynch was beginning to land on around the same time.
Out of all of the Mort Garson records which Sacred Bones have reissued, 1970’s film score Didn't You Hear? may be the most exciting of the lot. This is an endlessly inventive LP of electronic music from the Garson archives.
Black Mass is the only LP that the important early Moog composer Mort Garson put out under his Lucifer moniker. First emerging in 1971, this is a record which maintains the inventive synthesizer and keyboard techniques that one hears on Garson classics such as Mother Earth's Plantasia but utilises them to altogether darker ends.
Rather than pretty and whimsical keyboard music exercises, several tracks on Black Mass find Garson entering a shadow world of unnerving drones, whooshing atmospherics and ambiences that can only be described as occult. ‘The Evil Eye’, for instance, is a devilishly disorientating collection of synthetic sound while ‘ESP’ closes the record out with a rush of unsettling textures. When Garson does come closer to Wendy Carlos-style vignettes here he maintains the witching-hour feel of Black Mass’ more darkside numbers - ‘Incubus’ and ‘Exorcism’ find their baroque keyboard runs disturbed by stormy background sound.
The album’s otherworldly air means that, as well as Garson’s usual points of comparison like Jean-Michel Jarre, Black Mass also prefigures the innovations of Coil and Nurse With Wound. This new Sacred Bones edition of Black Mass features remastered audio and comes complete with the liner notes from the album original release.
Originally released in 1971, Lucifer's Black Mass LP is a far darker record than one may expect from the synthesizer music pioneer Mort Garson.
1975’s The Unexplained (Electronic Musical Impressions Of The Occult) is an example of the darker side of Mort Garson’s synthesizer music sound. Much like the Black Mass LP he put out under the name of Lucifer four years prior to The Unexplained, this record finds Garson adopting a new moniker - in this case Ataraxia - and journeying into a realm of occult sonics and brooding synthetic tones.
Some of the tracks here stick closely to the keyboard-based work that many people know and love Garson for - albeit also coming with a distinctly more outer-edges flavour than, say, Mother Earth’s Plantasia. On tunes such as ‘Tarot’ and ‘Cabala’ twiddling keyboard runs coalesce to create rich, slightly proggy pieces. ‘Astral Projection’ and The Unexplained’s title-track bring these together with programmed drum backing to invoke what was happening in much television library music at the time.
The album’s more abstract moments are those where The Unexplained makes good on the promise of its subtitle most clearly. There is an air of uncanniness to the icy Moog tones of ‘I Ching’ and ‘Sorceror’ which more than fit the description of Electronic Musical Impressions Of The Occult, and the positively unsettling ‘Seance’ invokes some classic avant-garde film scoring with its murky textures and ghoulish lead lines.
A remastered edition of The Unexplained (Electronic Musical Impressions Of The Occult), the 1975 album that Mort Garson released under the name Ataraxia, brings out the otherworldly qualities of this uncanny electronic music.