Sacred Bones reissue a pioneering work of both discrete music and early electronic composition.
‘Warm earth music for plants … and the people who love them’. So runs the tagline to Mort Garson’s 1976 LP Plantasia. The Secret Life Of Plants, a 1973 book by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, had sold in its millions in the U.S.A, and as a result more homes than ever were awash with greenery. Seeing as one of the claims made in the book was that plants enjoyed music (we’ll let you know about that one) it was only a matter of time before an album came on the market that catered as much to flora and fauna as to green-fingered bipeds.
On first glance it seems incongruous that Garson composed an album about nature exclusively on synthesisers. However, listening to Plantasia reveals that electronic instruments were actually the perfect match for this brief. Garson was one of the first artists to put Moog synths at the centre of his practice, and by the mid-70’s he had found a way to make these machines sound warm and human. As a result, many of the tracks here have a kind of quirky charm to them that one would only have been able to conjure from the alien tones of a Moog.
Garson had a vastly varied output - a string of lounge hits, plenty of session playing and arrangement work for Doris Day and Glen Campbell were just three of the things on his CV prior to Plantasia. His innate musicality shines through on this LP. By turns the tracks here take in ersatz Latin rhythms (‘Swingin’ Spathiphyllums’), proggy keyboard explorations (‘Symphony For A Spider Plant’) and library jazz (pretty much all of them) while still maintaining their wit and way with melody. There is even the ghost of the experiments many artists would later make with this electronic equipment in the stargazing arpeggios of something like ‘Rhapsody In Green’, though Garson’s treatment means that the record remains Earth-bound.
This new edition of Mort Garson’s Plantasia comes courtesy of Sacred Bones. The record has been pressed on delightful ‘snake plant green-and-yellow’ vinyl - a Bleep exclusive.