Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Phil Moon's amazing 1987 masterpiece Ozone from Master Plus [lossless; recommended!]

This was ripped or perhaps shared long ago by the library master pornotrond for dusty shelf and I have always felt it really deserved more so today we have wavs to listen to for all you lossless lovers out there.  Speaking of which let's not forget Mothers Day is coming up in less than a month...  yeah I know we all love to be reminded of that one...

First of all in terms of information we have the sparsity of the database to contend with.  The blurb on the back of the record, in addition to advertising its musical contents, mentions that the theme is indeed the Ozone Layer of the Earth (residing in the lower stratosphere) which became such a hot-button issue back in the eighties when it was discovered the CFCs from air conditioning, aerosols, and refrigeration (like freon) were slowly destroying it.  Up there it blocks 99 percent of the sun's ultraviolet-C (worse than UV-A and UV-B the cause of sunburns).  At that time surprising political agreement led to a so-called ban (only for Western countries, in reality) on their production and replacement with similar compounds.  Note that the replacements are powerful greenhouse gases, so we learn once again the lesson that modern life has knock-off effects that inevitably are detrimental to the biosphere.  As well, despite all the back-patting regarding the Montreal protocol for phasing out CFCs, the ozone hole is not repaired and is still enormous.  Here the positive news is mostly that it isn't increasing exponentially like it used to be in the eighties.  But it is still huge and in some years, it's the same size it was back then, when this record was made.  It's amazing how politics has led us to such low standards that a slower rate of progression is reinterpreted as the disappearance of a problem.  There are so many similar issues today like national debts, population increases (apparently the UN has to keep revising upwards its estimate of the final world population peak (about 80 years from now), it may reach as high as double the current 7.3 billion before stabilizing-- clearly a disaster for all of us, or should I say, all our children and grandchildren).  And then, there's the other problem I mentioned with regards to the Amazon rainforest, that a political issue can only be a hot topic once, if it has the misfortune to reappear, it cannot possibly provoke any amount of public consternation...

Anyways back to the music.  The artist Phil Moon is a bit of a mystery, does anyone know if this is a pseudonym as we know is common in these library records?  I find it hard to believe this gentleman dropped in our lap such a fantastic piece of music and nothing else.  As usual I'm shocked at the low reviews on the rateyourmusic site though perhaps I shouldn't be, my wife usually refers to them as 'the mother's basement dwellers'.  Perhaps I'm also included in that description.  To me this is the apotheosis of funk-fusion library invention, with each track offering some musical originality or quirk to make it highly interesting.  There is an endless parade of invention here, musical ideas are developed and thoroughly explored with complete compositional confidence.  Really, a class example of how stunningly these library masters could put together music, and from the verso, note that Phil played all the instruments, including percussion, synths, guitars, bass, the whole rhythm section was laid down as a basis to play atop of.  In some places the originality of the rhythm section reminds me of what the great Stevie Wonder did in his classic early seventies albums (like Talking Book).  Presumably a lot of time was spent in the studio here replaying all the tracks and dubs after the beat was established.  Then that beat was discarded when a new drum section with more syncopation was added.  The intelligent editing out of unnecessary sounds or layers I think is part of what makes this record such a success.  On the other hand the multiple overdubs do contribute to what can be heard as a slight deterioration in some of the tracks (instrument parts), in my opinion.

Now moving on to the label.  This master plus was a bit of a mystery to me, though the description of the production method certainly is entertaining to read, it appears on the back of this, here is the first part of it:

All longplay records included in this "Master Plus" repertoire have been produced or newly mixed up in 24 or 36 track recordings in studios which are on the highest technical level. 
The producers have quite consciously renounced of digital recording equipment so that the analog technique of the multi-track-recorder (mixing up) is in no way weakened. Besides this the analog recording machine can be balanced higher which leads to a considerably increased dynamic volume. Thus high impulses can be reproduced undiminished. 
In order to avoid any tape noise of the recording all "tape to tape" copies have been filtered by "dbx-1" noise reduction system - with a result which is only very slightly different from a digital copy. By choosing a tape speed of 76 cmps in recording and cutting area a positive contribution to the above quality characteristics can be reached.... 
[you can read the rest on this page]

Then I asked my library collector friend about this series which I knew nothing about.

In fact, Master Plus is the German version of Musical Touch Sound - MTS.
Most albums on MTS are re-released on Master Plus with the same or a bit different title.
Compare these two albums for instance:

Edouard Scotto ‎– The Musical World Of Metal And Science Fiction
Label: Master Plus ‎– 38009

Yan Tregger ‎– To The Land Of No Return
Label:Musical Touch Sound ‎– M.T.S. 1005

However, the albums on MTS are a bit richer than Master Plus and considered to be the first release.
BY richer I mean there are more tracks on MTS LPs than Master Plus ones.

Sadly, some titles on the MTS side are missing on Discogs and we don't know exactly whether those titles like OZONE have ever been released on MTS or not.
It's possible that some German composers have been invited to the German side (Master Plus) to perform and then release their albums on this label.
I don't know whether Phil Moon for instance, is German or French.
The only copy of OZONE I got was from a blog by Pornotrond named: DustyShelf.
It's located here exactly.

So there we have it, still a bit of a mystery, this record.
Any information anyone has in this regard would be most appreciated!!

Here are some of my favourite tracks with a brief analysis.  First up the gorgeous wavy feel of Thalassa:

We hear a lot of ocean music (attempted or successful) in these library records but this one, really, stands out.

The next track called Shift is described as "aquatic and syncopated--" what to me is fascinating is the way the composer has crafted a three-part instrumental, each half minute the entire sound or melody is altered, halfway through, a bass run completely changes the direction of the track to an upgoing chord change.  And in terms of the timing think of how much effort it must have taken for one man to lay the tracks on top of each other individually, perhaps erasing earlier basic beat tracks to create a more syncopated and driving sound with fewer metronomic type sounds.

As amazing as that one was, we continue on to the next, Contacts, where there is even more surprising syncopation and the the volume pedal is brought on to incredible effect, and with perfect timing:

Finally, here verbatim is the beginning of the verso blurb at the bottom:

Ozone describes the atmospheric layer shielding our planet from the remaining universe.  With increasing distance to our planet this layer gets wider being less connected to its unity and finally reaching endless freedom.  

On this LP Phil Moon has excellently connected stylistic elements of salsa jazz and rock to a new music, however without keeping strictly to the individual musical styles.  In that way he created a music free from any compulsions or forces so to speak...

And indeed we can say the same about all progressive music, it is free from any compulsions or forces... except beauty.  How sad and undeserving that this record sank without a trace in the late eighties, almost 30 years ago.

Let me add this is one of my all-time favourite library records. As a progressive fusion album, it really is a masterpiece.


  1. mp3

    lossless lovers out there:

    New upload by request of Michel Herr's Good Buddies which is strongly, strongly recommended!

    And don't worry about zippyshare's odd prohibition on google chrome, there's a note about that on the zippy website

    I am open to any suggestions or requests by the way with this master plus series that are NOT YET available digitally and seem interesting musically. Of course as my friend pointed out, it's a mess, with the identical releases under different titles from MTS.
    PS have a look at the images and tell me what you think!

  2. wow. amazing. never seen this and really looking forward. i don't know about the artist or the label but i think someone on the library forums may be able to shed some light… as you noted often composers used aliases. here's the forum if interest:
    thank you for sharing!

  3. Thanks for this and love the detail of your posts!

    1. Thanks Julian, the title alone is inviting! Of course I have learned if you highly recomend something I'm gonna check it out. Keep on trucking!

  4. Thanks for the rip, and an interesting write-up, as always!

    All the tracks on this LP are attributed to French composers Philippe Debard (better known as "Phil Yosta") and Philippe Gaviglio. "Phil Moon" may here very well refer to them both, which would explain the showcased multi-instrumentalism on the record. Debard/Yosta, a guitarist, is most likely the one featured prominently on these tracks.

    Though I've never heard any of their releases, I think both composers are connected to the band "Walton Ornato", who had a few releases from the late 80's onwards.

    1. Very interesting! My only concern with this is that it seems unlikely to me that all the instruments being credited to 'phil moon' -- that this person then turns out to be two, since why make it seem like it was all played by one individual? Maybe there were two composers but only one man performed?
      On the other hand it makes sense that it's French, because they made highly progressive fusion well into the eighties, cf. Dugrenot, etc.
      I'll have to look at those two composers more closely.

    2. PS the AO 56 came in and proved interesting, stay tuned library fans

    3. your information appears to have been spot on, the composer was Gaviglio who wrote (new agey stuff) for walton ornato, and the musician was phil yosta, the guitarist. You can hear their 1987 album Transpacific on amazon:
      well, from this it's hard to believe it's the same musicians...

  5. wouldn't of given this one the time of day - but on your recommendation one must of course listen.
    Glad I did...

    1. really? not a library fan? I daresay you don't know how much beauty you (very occasionally) are missing!! ;-)

  6. to the contrary, it's not the format or origin but the year. Library quality & originality nose-dived in the 80s

    1. good thing you have me to slog through the morass of mediocrity for you and emerge occasionally with a jewel; ;-)

  7. I would agree with the above comment. I would have never listened to this record...I was prepared to skip it until I read the comments and the labeling of "masterpiece". I think the word gets thrown around a lot (not to diminish anyone's personal preferences). But I have to say I'm in agreement on this one. I've listened twice through to this. This is an exceptional record indeed.