Mystic Moods Orchestra
The Mystic Moods Orchestra
|Origin||Burbank, California, United States|
|Genres||Jazz, Easy Listening|
|Labels||Philips, Warner, Sound Bird, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Bainbridge|
|Associated acts||Don Ralke|
Leo Kulka (producer)
|Past members||Brad Miller|
The Mystic Moods Orchestra was a group known for mixing orchestral pop, environmental sounds, and pioneering recording techniques. It was created by audiophile Brad Miller. The first Mystic Moods Orchestra album, One Stormy Night, was released in 1965 through the label Philips. Throughout the rest of the 1960s and 1970s, the group continued to release similar styled recordings and their recordings continued to be reissued throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Brad Miller was born in Burbank, California, and had developed an interest in railroading in his teens. After a few years of hanging around railyards and learning all the lore of steam and diesel engines, he decided to record the sounds of some of the last steam locomotives operating on a major rail line. Eventually, around 1958, he and his friend, Jim Connella, formed a company called Mobile Fidelity Records and started cutting records from these field recordings, which they released through railroading magazines and model train shows. Sound effects recording was quite the rage at the dawn of stereo, and one of these albums of train sounds was even reviewed favorably in High Fidelity magazine. A few years later, Ernie McDaniel of San Francisco radio station KFOG decided to put one of Miller's albums, Steam Railroading Under Thundering Skies, and an easy listening album, on separate turntables and broadcast them together. His late-night stunt produced a barrage of listener phone calls (most of which were positive), much to his surprise. He later related the episode to Miller, who was inspired by the idea.
While working with arranger Don Ralke, Miller recorded a series of tunes, most of them Ralke originals, played by a string-laden orchestra, then mixed in a variety of environmental sounds he had collected. He took several months fine-tuning the blend, then cut a deal with Philips to release it under the title of One Stormy Night, credited to the Mystic Moods Orchestra.
With the help of producer Leo Kulka, Miller quickly developed a series of albums similar to One Stormy Night: Nighttide, More Than Music, Mexican Trip, and Mystic Moods of Love, among others. Don Ralke wrote most of the material and did all the arrangements for the first few albums. John Tartalgia did a few more, then Larry Fotine became the primary arranger when Miller and Kulka moved to the Warner label. The musical content shifted to mellow covers of current hits ("Love the One You're With"), and Warners modified the packaging of the albums to make sure there was no mystery that these were records to serve as the preamble or accompaniment to sexual intercourse. The 1974 release Erogenous came with an inner sleeve that, when pulled out, showed a nude couple in soft focus.
In 1974, Miller founded his own label, called Sound Bird Records, and reissued many of the Mystic Moods Orchestra albums, as well as albums of environmental sounds without music and more train recordings.
The backing track to the song "The First Day Of Forever" off the album Awakening was used for the theme song of the American version of the Japanese superhero television show Spectreman.
- One Stormy Night (1966, Philips), 1972, Warner Bros. (first reissue), 1975, Sound Bird (second reissue)
- Nighttide (1966, Philips)
- More Than Music (1967, Philips)
- Mexican Trip (1967, Philips)
- Mystic Moods of Love (1968, Philips)
- Emotions (1968, Philips)
- Extensions (1969, Philips)
- Love Token (1969, Philips)
- Stormy Weekend (1970, Philips), 1972, Warner Bros. (first reissue), 1975, Sound Bird (second reissue)
- English Muffins (1971, Philips)
- Country Lovin' Folk (1972, Philips)
- Love the One You're With (1972, Warner Bros.), 1974, Sound Bird (reissue)
- Highway One (1972, Warner Bros.)
- Moods for a Stormy Night (1972, Bainbridge Records), 1975, Sound Bird (reissue)
- Clear Light (1973, Warner Bros.)
- Erogenous (1974, Warner Bros.), 1975, Sound Bird (reissue)
- Being With You (1976, Sound Bird Records)
- Cosmic Force (1978, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab)
- Summer Moods (1985, Bainbridge Records)
- Stormy Memories (1990, Bainbridge Records)