Sacred Bones Records (label)
24 June 2019 (released)
24 June 2019
In his 2006 book ‘1973: Nervous Breakdown’ author Andreas Killen states the 1970s were a "decade of oedipal crises that have re-emerged with new intensity in our own time”. The re-emergence of this album today is a balm, a tonic, a salve.
By the early 1970s the utopian ideals and visons of the 1960s had stagnated. Rachel Carson’s eco-warning book ‘Silent Spring’ from 1962 had attempted to inform of the negative impact of human behaviour on the planet allied to the chemical industries’ ignorant malfeasance to no avail. Concurrently, the Vietnam War was waged in spite of worldwide hostility and questions of true motives. The planet was under siege both psychically and cyclically.
Picture this: 1976, the enigmatic Mort Garson, Moog pioneer, Juilliard graduate, pop-hit arranger (Doris Day, Glen Campbell’s ‘By the time I get to Phoenix’) is leisurely reading ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ a book written by occultist/former OSS agent Peter Tompkins and former CIA agent/dowsing enthusiast Christopher Bird.
In it they (environ)mentally argued that plants can hear our prayers, detect lies, are telepathic, able to predict natural disasters, receive signals from distant galaxies and even appreciate music. (Stevie Wonder was also inspired by the book’s agri-vation releasing ‘Journey through the secret life of plants’ in 1979).
Up shoots Garson (who also devised the theory of an ‘idear’: an embodied, exuded, ‘lived’ form of art divined from nature) and exclaims ‘I’m going to create the first ‘agri-culture concept album using the Moog to produce photo-synthesised plant music’. In essence, ‘space (for)age music’.
That album, ‘Mother Earth’s Plantasia’, is easily the first (and only) album to be acquired exclusively through the purchase of a houseplant from the Mother Earth Plant Boutique in Los Angeles or (even more bizarrely) a mattress from the hypermarket chain Sears. Now for the first time the album is being (re)issued on vinyl by Sacred Bones.
‘Plantasia’ is divinely cosmic, a transcendental time-travelling trip back to a time when a prosperous future seemed achievable. The Moog’s still progressive sounds permeate this album of eco-esoterica.
With titles such as ‘Symphony for a spider plant’, ‘Swinging Spathiphyllums’ and ‘You don’t have to walk a begonia’ allied to throbbing basslines and pulsating bleeps, the overall effect is less NY avant-art terrorists Suicide’s street punk and more 'cereboral' tree-funk.
These time(less) sounds easily slot into the hauntological scene of wyrd and eerie (e.g. the the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the Ghost Box label), the futuristic Moog sounds as ‘out there’ today as it did then.
Subtitled ‘warm earth music for plants and the people who love them’ the next time you think of blasting out the tunes, spare a thought for the surrounding greenery. As the world continues to burn it’s time to go back to nature.