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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds album cover
3.87 | 23 ratings | 4 reviews | 39% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1967

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aries - The Fire-Fighter (3:17)
2. Taurus - The Voluptuary (3:38)
3. Gemini - The Cool Eye (2:50)
4. Cancer - The Moon Child (3:27)
5. Leo - The Lord Of Lights (2:30)
6. Virgo - The Perpetual Perfectionist (3:05)
7. Libra - The Flower Child (3:28)
8. Scorpio - The Passionate Hero (2:51)
9. Sagittarius - The Versatile Daredevil (2:06)
10. Capricorn - The Uncapricious Climber (3:30)
11. Aquarius - The Lover Of Life (3:45)
12. Pisces - The Peace Piper (3:19)

Total Time 38:25

Line-up / Musicians

- 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

Releases information

Released November 1967
Recorded 1967
Label: Elektra Records
Reissued by Water Records
Produced by Alex Hassilev
Music written by Mort Garson
All lyrics written by Jacques Wilson
Sleeve artwork by artist Abe Gurvin and art director William S. Harvey

Thanks to UMUR for the addition
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VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds" is a collaborative concept album on the theme of the signs of the Zodiac released by Elektra Records in November 1967. The basic idea for the album came from head of Elektra Records Jac Holzman. The idea was fueled by the grand commercial succes of the debut album by The Doors which was also released on Elektra Records.Jac Holzman hired Alex Hassilev (The Limeliters) to produce the album. Alex Hassilev asked Mort Garson, whom he had a production company with, to compose the music for the album and the lyrics were written by Jacques Wilson. Different session musicians were brought in to contribute to the recordings most notably Paul Beaver who played Moog and other electronic instruments and narrator Cyrus Faryar.

According to Alex Hassilev the album was recorded in about four sessions but Cyrus Faryarīs recitation of the poems (the lyrics) and the recording of the moog parts were done at another time and then overdubbed. All parts of the tracks were played/recitated and recorded live though except the moog parts. A rather stressful task for percussionist Emil Richards who according to Hassilev had to run around in the studio to play his many different percussion instruments (according to Richards he owned over 700 diferent ones).

The "The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds" album is generally considered to be one of the first commercial albums to feature the use of the moog synthesizer. Itīs not the first though. But the moog that was used for the recording of the album actually had to be rented as nobody on the US West Coast scene had started to work with the moog yet. Hassilev had heard about the instrument and went to the Audio Engineering Society convention to meet Robert Moog (the inventer of the moog) and to check out the moog. After being very impressed by what he heard, he hired the demonstration model which was the only existing one in that part of the country at the time. The instrument turned out to be quite the challenge though as there were problems with keeping it in tune (the oscillators were unstable and the instrument had to be warmed up before use). So the recording of the moog parts proved difficult.

The music on the album is psychadelic rock with lots of spacy moog sounds, loads of different percussion instruments, West Coast guitar blues rock riffs, Harpsichord and organ. On top of that thereīs the recitation of poems by folk singer Cyrus Faryar (whose voice is very similar to the voice of Jim Morrison). Thereīs no singing on the album only recitation of poems on the theme of the signs of the Zodiac. Thereīs a mystic aura about the album that some might find cool and others will probably find tacky/kitchy. There are 12 tracks on the album each named after the 12 Zodiac signs and the lyrics (which are rather strange) reflect the theme.

The musicianship on the album is impeccable. Itīs easy to hear that these musicians are all experienced session musicians. So donīt expect drug induced sloppy playing. This is psychadelic rock but the musicians behind the project werenīt necessarily into this kind of music. Thatīs of course a paradox that many will probably complain about and I fully understand the objection but that doesnīt mean I canīt enjoy the music without prejudice.

The sound production is very professional, organic, warm and well sounding. A quality sound production considering the album was recorded in 1967. Itīs a great deal more polished than most other psychadelic rock albums of that era, which is probably due to the background history of the album (a pre-fabricated product backed up by a label boss and played by session musicians). If you listen without prejudice, "The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds" is still quite a great psychadelic rock release with a captivating atmosphere and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

Review by zravkapt
3 stars What a trip! A one time studio project by professional studio musicians. A concept album about the signs of the zodiac. There is no singing. All the vocals are narrator Cyrus Faryar reading poems about each sign. The music is generally mid-60s West Coast psych rock. Most of the instrumentation is of it's era: guitars, bass, drums, organ, harpsichord, flute, sitar, tabla, etc. The big exception being the Moog synthesizer. This album features some of the earliest use of Moog in a non-academic field. The Monkees had an album with Moog before this, but it was only used on two songs. The Moog here is played by Paul Beaver of the electronic pioneering duo Beaver & Krause.

Although this is technically "psychedelic" music, it is performed by skilled studio musicians. For 1967 this album sounds great. Better sounding than a Beatles or Doors album from the same year. One of the members of the Moody Blues described this as the first psychedelic album. That statement isn't too far off the mark, but the first psych album was the debut of The 13th Floor Elevators a year before. This is actually one of the first 'proto-prog' albums. A good one too.

"Taurus" has a great bass line done on Moog for the whole song. Not only does this album feature some of the earliest use of synth, but very well the first example of synth bass; long before people like Stevie Wonder and Gary Wright were doing bass lines of synthesizer. With the Moog bass is some nice flute playing. A bass guitar doubles with the Moog bass about halfway through. "Cancer" has great guitar and some trippy Moog sounds. "Scorpio" has marching drums. Also a good riff/melody done on guitar and organ.

Overall a really good proto-prog album. Not something you would want to listen to everyday, but a great artifact from the late 1960s. 3 stars.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars This album deserves to be in Progarchives. It's a 1967 release, but it sounds actually quite progressive for 1967. Certainly the psychedelic elements are there, but that's to be expected. This is one of those one-off projects consisting of a bunch of L.A. session musicians who played on some major hits from the likes of the Byrds, Beach Boys, Mamas and the Papas, and so on. Also involved is Paul Beaver, responsible for including synths on albums from the Monkees, Simon and Garfunkel ("Save the Life of My Child"), The Turtles ("You Showed Me") and so on. Music written by Jacques Wilson and Canadian expatriate Mort Garson (who released his share of electronic Moog albums up to the mid 1970s). Plus you get Jim Morrison-like narration from Cyrus Faryar.

Unsurprisingly you get twelve cuts on the album, each representing the different sign. Lots of nice keyboards like organ, electric harpsichord, and most of all, the Moog synthesizer. Actually the Moog is more low-key than you usually expect from recordings of this era, Beaver seemed to be using it more for ambient settings. Each of the songs features narration, describing the sign in question. I really love the flute Bud Shank uses on some of the cuts, really magical and trippy, especially on "Virgo".

It seemed British prog rockers loved this album. Elektra did release this album in the UK so at least some of the British public caught on. When I first heard both "Aries" and "Taurus", I was thinking those cuts were familiar. Scottish heavy rock band Writing on the Wall covered "Aries" for their 1969 album The Power of the Picts, and East of Eden borrowed "Taurus" for their "In the Stable of the Sphinx" off Mercator Projected (1969). That's where I heard them, also I was familiar with those albums before I bought Cosmic Sounds.

There are those that consider this album a dated relic, but I think the music is fantastic, so I don't let the dated material bother me any.

Also Mort Garson, inspired by this album, decided to do a 12 LP set called Signs of the Zodiac, each LP assigned to a different sign. Those LPs might be compared to Cosmic Sounds for the subject matter, but it's all electronic, and features narrations from three different people, going in to much further detail on the particular sign, than any given three minute cut on the sign on Cosmic Sounds.

I really don't believe in astrology, some do. What I am concerned was the musical quality of Cosmic Sounds, and the album certainly does not disappoint!

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Cosmic at the time

One of the first releases to feature the Moog, and also one of the first concept albums, "Cosmic Sounds" is a collaborative project realized by multiple professional studio musicians and arrangers. Consisting in twelve short pieces representing the signs of the Zodiac, it features all the various psychedelic elements of the late 60's, and an important usage of keyboards, especially the well-known synthesizer, played by Paul Beaver. Each track is built around small musical patterns and narration interludes pronounced by Cyrus Faryar. The words were written by Jacques Wilson, and, most important, the music was composed by Mort Garson, who will later become one of the Moog's audacious explorers.

True story: the back cover includes the mention "Must Be Played In The Dark"...

The opener "Aries - The Fire-Fighter" is a psychedelic rock typical of the 60's. One of the best passages of the record, very catchy! Then comes "Taurus - The Voluptuary", a soft pastoral ballad, followed by the strange "Gemini - The Cool Eye", displaying various spacey ambiances but a bit uneven. "Cancer - The Moon Child" opens with a mysterious threatening ambiance, to then release furious guitars (at the time). Although "Leo - The Lord Of Lights" is a nice psyché-rock, my personal favorite track is undoubtedly the stellar "Virgo - The Perpetual Perfectionist" is. A perfect (short) trip into the stars!

The trippy meditative "Libra - The Flower Child" uses Indian instruments, whereas the martial "Scorpio - The Passionate Hero" is more oppressive. On the contrary, the weird circus "Sagittarius - The Versatile Daredevil" sounds a little out of place. No the best sign here... Much more mysterious is the sinister ritual "Capricorn - The Uncapricious Climber". The record finishes with the aerial crystalline "Aquarius - The Lover Of Life" and the peaceful melancholic "Pisces - The Peace Piper".

Despite its short tracks and length, the music manages to offer multiple varied atmospheres. For sure, the disc sounds a bit dated now and contains a few weak moments, but the result is very nice, ahead of its time and spacey for 1967. Accessible and not too experimental, "Cosmic Sounds" is a colorful and trippy journey around the Zodiac.

This album will influence other bands, such as MOODY BLUES for their pioneering "Days of Future Passed", usually considered as one of the first progressive record ever. An innovative and historic proto-prog album, and an essential listen for psychedelic and space rock lovers. Cosmic pop from the sixties!

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