This late '50s album by Russ Garcia, originally released on the Liberty label, wholly epitomizes the values of Space Age Bachelor Pad music -- very dated (but very fascinating) cover art and some of the most unusual sounds on Earth (or elsewhere!), along with that essential Atomic Age vibe that pop music from the time period captured so damn well. In many ways, this album also sounds so far ahead of its time that it would still be considered innovative even by today's standards.
I've heard this straight-through on more than several instances and all I can say is that this is a really incredible record. It is so incredible, in fact, that I fear no words could possibly do it justice. Listening to it will ultimately give you the impression you need, possibly even more so with this album than any old "average" one. This is mostly an instrumental adventure (except for the occasional abstract female vocal), and it is not quite as Big Band as some might be led to believe. Fantastica incorporates a great variety of sound effects, including tape manipulation and gelatin water (more on that in a minute..), as well as orchestral arrangement. The orchestra, however, is used in a wildly different fashion than what is generally associated with the early years of stereophonic sound. I think I can hear tinges of Varese-like meanderings and some of the more bizarre modern classical stylings worked into this, which is rare considering that Fantastica was really a "mainstream" effort. Also worthy of note is that, of music from space age, this is probably one of the most effective albums in terms of "taking you away from Earth" -- the spaced out exotic/impressionistic atmosphere is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
A lot of professors will go into the concept of tension (or comfort zone) when discussing pieces of music, and, staying alert to my own responses throughout the run-time of this record, I can say that it does a right-fine job at keeping you on edge. At least for me, and even after repeated plays, Fantastica has a wickedly challenging and unpredictable way about itself.
The tracks are all original compositions, from what I can tell. Russ Garcia is fairly well known in the Space Age Pop genre, and, with a little research, I discovered that he was a bonafide musical prodigy and successful composer in his day ('30s, '40s and '50s). In fact, he was probably a true innovator. The gelatin water I mentioned earlier refers to track number nine (Volcanoes Of Mercury) which includes the sound of a volcano bub-bub-bubbling away (not just for thirty seconds but rather throughout the entire four minutes!). Garcia simply realized that blowing through a straw into some gelatin water makes for some great volcano music! What a good idea!
In short, this is a truly original album, the result of which makes for a truly satisfying experience. This is something that should be listened to, it just should.