For seven months in 1962, a well-attended element of the Seattle World’s Fair called the Bubbleator served as a ride that held up to 150 passengers at a time. It climbed above 74 acres of exhibits, tents, and long lines of lazy people who’d gathered to ride the event’s monorail. The soundtrack being played over the Bubbleator’s primitive P.A. speakers was actually an album called Man in Space with Sounds, which had been composed years earlier by Attilio “Art” Mineo. The Anthology label’s re-release of Man in Space is two-fold: one version here features a narrator who precedes Mineo’s sonic oddities with descriptions of the futuristic images that Bubbleator riders saw mid-flight. The second edition, sans voiceover parts, is far preferable to the tracks with the narrator, although this has nothing to do with mastering: neither portion is in stereo, and the sound quality hasn’t aged well, having been marred by overplay and high-end pops. The fact is, Mineo’s orchestral offerings on Man in Space are spine-tingling at most points, and the vanilla narrator tames the collection’s split personality. Shrill noises and squeals peek around each slowly churning cello arrangement, as a great deal of machines lend a manic atmosphere to each piece. “Century 21”, for example, is wrought with madness—plucked violin strings and carnival organs are overpowered by theremins and looped dissonant electronics, while the less bonkers “Man in Art” packs an unsettling melody that irks noticeably only when interspersed bleeps and ticks come ‘round. Mineo does a reputable job of disturbing his passengers by himself; the narrator just gets in the way of progress.
// Notes from the Road
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