Song Of The Day 5/24/2016: Z (Mort Garson) – “Climax One”

Moog In Vogue – (Possibly NSFW) – Of course the moment the Moog synthesizer was demystified for the mainstream everybody wanted to get next to it, to somehow elicit its simulation of normal human responses. This was only partly narcissistic. People used to go to the jungle to try and suss out just how much gorillas' social lives mirrored our own – whether they had the same hive mentality, maintained the same social contract, drank the same espresso and felt the same way about the encroaching Soviet threat. But before we lionized synthesizers for being a little too close to the upcoming robot takeover for our comfort, we sought some sort of benediction from them: the hope that they could interpret our intangible systems of stimuli and arousal into code, perhaps because we longed for data to understand exactly why we were failing so miserably at high school proms. Which meant as soon as we were done switching on Bach and giving our rock operas that oomph factor, we started downloading details about our sexy time into the mainframe and seeing what puddles those little motherboards issued. It must have been to irresistible to pass up: appending the squishy nature of human sexuality to a machine that was already so accomplished at burping.

Which is where Mort Garson (1924-2008) came in. Mort's always bursting in at this point, isn't he? Garson was a star composer and arranger in the music industry when somebody dropped a Moog wrapped in a shroud in a handwoven basket and deposited it somewhere he would notice it. He was one of the first to fondle Moogs purely for his own amusement and not as part of some chain of command. In 1971 Garson decided it was time to up the ante on the relationship and make a straight-up piece of softcore audio porn featuring the Moog front and center. The resultant album was called Music for Sensuous Lovers, an important title as it funneled out the mechanistic lovers, the autocratic lovers, and the lovers who were doing it just to fill out their timecards. Garson went by the pseudonym "Z" for this project because "D" had no mystery and "X" was for dime-store perverts.

The record was a ball-breaking 26 minutes long and featured two pieces which he called "Climaxes," one for each side. (Which meant that, if you were using this album for mood enhancement purposes, you'd have to get up in the middle of -- whatever you were doing, and flip the record over. It's amazing any of us populated the earth before compact discs.) I have only heard "Climax One," but it may be the only simulated orgasm over gurgling electronic music I will ever need. I'm not going to break down the play-by-play for you (kind of confident you'll get it), but I will say that although "Z" makes a jolly good effort, the sensuality of the circuitry 45 years past its launch date is somewhat elusive to me. But it's not more out-of-place to have an analog synth sex record than it is to have it come from a guy whose real name was "Mort."

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