One of the choice audio aphrodisiacs of the '60s and '70s, the Mystic Moods Orchestra mixed orchestral pop, environmental sounds, and pioneering recording techniques into a unique musical phenomenon. Audiophile Brad Miller, the creator of the Mystic Moods Orchestra, was devoted to capturing sound as accurately as possible, and was particularly inspired by the sounds of railroads; in the '50s, he began recording some of the last steam locomotives still running. In order to sell his railroad recordings, which took advantage of the era's latest advances in stereo technology, Miller formed the Mobile Fidelity label. Within their field, Miller's albums were well received, but the concept of the Mystic Moods Orchestra didn't occur to him until the mid-'60s, when a late-night San Francisco DJ played one of Miller's albums and an easy listening album simultaneously on the air. When he received surprisingly positive feedback to his joke, he told Miller, who was suitably inspired to collaborate with arranger/composer Don Ralke on the first Mystic Moods Orchestra album, 1965's One Stormy Night.
Released through Philips, the album consisted of Mantovani-esque orchestral instrumentals and Miller's recordings of rain, thunder, and trains; the liner notes featured vaguely psychedelic poetry and detailed technical explanations of the microphones, mixers, decks, and other equipment used to record the album. It became Philips' most popular release that year, and throughout the rest of the '60s and '70s, Miller and producer Leo Kulka repeated that success with Mystic Moods Orchestra releases like Nighttide, More Than Music, and Mystic Moods of Love. After the Orchestra moved to Warner Bros. in the '70s, the music switched from original material to contemporary pop instrumentals, while the album covers and titles made it clear that the music was intended for romance and seduction. Indeed, Erogenous' inner sleeve featured a gauzy photo of a nude couple, and another album included a free pair of panties. Miller also continued to pursue higher levels of sonic perfection, releasing more environmental and railroad recordings, as well as Mystic Moods reissues on his own Soundbird label.
More importantly, in the late '70s, Miller founded the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. There, he implemented half-speed mastering techniques and the highest quality vinyl and cutting machines to produce albums with pristine sound quality; many labels licensed Mobile Fidelity's process for reissues. The Mystic Moods Orchestra's albums continued to be issued and reissued through the '80s and '90s, but unfortunately Miller's other brainchild, Mobile Fidelity, didn't weather the recording industry's switch from vinyl to CD. Ultimately, it went out of business in 1999, just a year after Miller's own demise. ~ Heather Phares