The Jazz genre spawned a couple of quite colorful subspecies that were part of important pop cultural movements to let the ordinary man escape from the daily grind. Two of the most prolific Pop Jazz spheres were exotica, which accompanied the tiki culture that was omnipresent throughout the '50s and early '60s, and space age music, a rather Pop-oriented, accessible style with hints of swing and vocal Jazz spiced up with quite mind-altering sound effects. Moon Gas, a 1963 collaboration between pianist and organist Dick Hyman and singer Mary Mayo, hits the center of the space age genre directly, with it's dreamy tunes; haunting, melancholic vocal melodies; and groovy, swinging compositions that invite the listener to an easy dance. Strange little sounds whistle and sparkle around the rather uncomplicated, easy-listening, Jazz-Pop compositions. The songs alone would certainly be on par with the best contemporary hit tunes of their age, but what really makes them outstanding is this combination with the sound-world of a space laboratory or starship. 1963 was definitely a year in which the USA found itself in competition with the Soviet Union for dominance in space, so this type of music fit well with the dreams of the average man to explore distant galaxies. About six or seven years later, when Psychedelic Rock had reached a peak and the music was ready to leave the earth behind, these early sounds were developed into space rock by such groups as Hawkwind. In 1963 we are still far away from this, and what Dick Hyman, Mary Mayo, and their unnamed band members create is a rather smooth and calm affair that still pushes one's mind towards certain borders of reality. All these funny noises transport the listener into a world of huge computers with flashing lights on board interstellar space ships traveling from one galaxy to the next. At it's core, it's cool vocal Jazz music, surrounded by arrangements of bleeping, rattling, and swooshing. The sweet, enchanting melodies evoke a futuristic dream; the musicians are tight and professional; and Mary Mayo sings in a distinctive and harmonic style that soothes the senses. Take a relaxed trip to the stars with this classic album.
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