Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black Sunday: Lucifer - Black Mass (1971)

I rarely go to the record store with a wishlist. It is just as rare for me to leave empty-handed. I prefer to browse new arrivals of both new and used material and, if nothing interesting comes up there, I file through the regular stock until something I missed before catches my eye. A few weeks back I hit the infrequently visited "electronica" section and came away with Black Mass, a Moog record on MCA's Universal City Records from astrology and occult composer Mort Garson, released under the name "Lucifer." How the hell could someone sell this off and, better yet, how the hell could I pass it up? I couldn't.

Garson is not a character I know well though I was aware he released a 12-LP series called Signs of the Zodiac in the late '60s (one record from each astrological sign - A&M was adventurous back then). Black Mass appears to be the only record Garson turned in as Lucifer and, while not necessarily scary, it's full of cool sounds that recall the fine, electronically-tinged horror film themes of the 1970s. Five tracks on each side cover a range of devil's themes from the ungodly mysticism of King Solomon to voodoo to the rites of exorcism to witch trials and, of course, a black mass. Liner notes from Dr. Michael Owen Jones, a Professor of Folklore and History from UCLA, provide a nice synopsis on each piece of subject matter on both sides of the record's sleeve.

While mine is well-worn, the record's jacket is minimally sinister, even if sporting some pretty stereotypical artwork. I dig the distinctive Uni center label. While the vinyl itself is standard fare, the sounds themselves make for some neat kaleidoscopic patterns across the wax, particularly on "The Ride of Aida (Voodoo)." The Mutant Sounds blog has a nice post on this particular record and offers a little more history on Garson and some of his other projects. Black Mass was a fun find, it's a fun listen and will make for a spectacular, kid-safe trick-or-treating soundtrack.

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