Like a perennial that returns with each new spring, the Mort Garson archives (Plantasia, Ataraxia, Lucifer) have brought to bear yet another awe-inspiring bloom. Journey to the Moon and Beyond finds even more new facets to the man’s sound. There’s the soundtrack to the 1974 blaxploitation film Black Eye (starring Fred Williamson), some previously unreleased and newly unearthed music for advertising. Just as regal is “Zoos of the World,” where Garson soundtracks the wild, preening, slumbering animals from a 1970 National Geographic special of the same name. The mind reels at just what project would have yielded a scintillating title like “Western Dragon,” but these three selections were found on tapes in the archive with no further information.
The crown jewel of the set is no doubt Garson’s soundtrack to the live broadcast of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, as first heard on CBS News. That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Moogkind. For decades, this audio was presumed lost, the only trace of it appearing to be from an old YouTube clip. Thankfully, diligent audio archivist Andy Zax came across a copy of the master tape while going through the massive Rod McKuen archive. So now we get to hear it in all its glory. Across six minutes, Garson conjures broad fantasias, whirring mooncraft sounds, zero-gravity squelches, and twinkling études. It showcases Mort’s many moods: sweet, exploratory, whimsical, a little bit corny, weaving it all together in a glorious whole.