The Zodiac - "Cosmic Sounds"
(Elektra/Runt 2002, water102, originally released 1967)
From Aural Innovations #21 (October 2002)
"Four thousand dreams may decay into indigo dust that covers Aquarius, and still, the voice will say...love."
- from Aquarius, The Lover of Life
Ah yes, it was dawning of the Age of Aquarius, and anything was possible. The year was 1967, the Summer of Love, and this "collective concept album" put out by Electra Records perfectly encapsulates that heady, incense scented time.
With its traditional rock instruments alongside early synths and electronics, exotic percussion, sitars, harpsichords, bells and other effects, this is as gloriously an innocent psychedelic foray as you are likely to find. The Zodiac is not really a band, per se, but a gathering of some of the hottest session musicians of the time. The music is all instrumental, but backs periodic, ever so serious poetic recitations by Cyrus Faryar, as he goes through each of the twelve signs of the zodiac, giving each one a character to represent it (Aquarius, The Lover of Life; Gemini, The Cool Eye; Libra, The Flower Child, etc.) Water has faithfully reproduced the wildly colorful cover, including the purple lettered instruction on the back: Must Be Played In the Dark. I can just imagine a bunch of stoned hippies back in 1967, sitting around in the dark listening to this, deriving great meaning from Faryar's poetic musings. "Far out, man."
It's a fun album, if you listen to it in light of the times it was recorded in. Quite a bit of the music is actually very creative and trippy, utilizing unusual instruments that may sound familiar to some now, but were unheard of in rock music in 1967. The detailed liner notes explore the entire history of the album, how it came to be, and who the players were. Cosmic Sounds is a fascinating and entertaining glimpse into the past, into a time full of innocent hope and joyous experimentation.
For more information, write to: Water, PO Box2947, San Francisco, CA, USA 94126.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald