Mother Earth’s Plantasia is a weird, compelling record worth a spin
Whether you are a casual reader of my column or one of the two weekly devotees, you’ll know that I have an affinity for certain old school record labels. And by that, I mean that I still believe in the notion of trusting a record label, their roster, and their judgment when it comes to new recordings or re-releases.
Having worked in the music industry on some fringe level since college, I’ve been fortunate enough to build on and forge relationships with some record promoters, public and college radio servicing departments (when they exist), and in many cases, independent labels (owned and operated by the artists themselves), which just want their music out there in the ether and played when applicable.
One such label that has impressed me for about a decade or so is New York-based Sacred Bones. Their roster is as varied as it is impressive, spanning various genres, aural delights, and sonic curiosities. Along with new artists on the cutting edge of experimental, punk, art house, electronica, and a swath of various sub-genres, the label has been known to reissue compelling, long-out-of-print oddities and specialty records.
And that brings me to this weeks highlighted album, Mort Garson’s “Mother Earth’s Plantasia”, which was originally released in 1976.
Call it serendipity, call it the cosmos aligning, call it a random coincidence – I don’t care. Call it what you will. I choose to call it kismet because 1.) phonetically, it’s a great word, and 2.) it was the name of my dear friend’s now defunct record, art and DIY space in St Louis. Not more than a week before a digital copy of this album landed in my inbox, I heard the following story from Fort Lewis College Vinyl Club President Noah Schlosser:
“While working at Boho Records and Rags in Santa Clarita, California, the owners of the store came back after scoring a ‘solid collection.’ The collection consisted of, in fact, solid albums in great condition.”
At the back of the pile was what they called “the icing on the cake,” an album titled “Mother Earth’s Plantasia.” I asked them what this album was, and they told me it was some weird electronic/psych music that was supposed to help plants grow, and the reason it was so rare was that the only way to obtain the album was to either receive it free with a houseplant purchase from an L.A. plant store called Mother Earth’s, or with the purchase of a Simmons mattress from Sears (yes, mattress – that is not a typo).
Fascinated by the artwork and story, I decided to give it a listen. It was a decent album. Not really the type of album I would listen to or put in my collection based on the music. I asked the owners of the store how much they thought they could get for the album and they told me anywhere from $200 to $400. I was blown away.
OK, I’m not a record collector in the sense that I’m wowed by the rarest and most expensive – at all – but add a descriptor like “weird electronic/psych music that was supposedly supposed to help plants grow” and I’m sold.
The music is generally ethereal, primitive, ambient electronic music composed and performed by Garson on a Moog synthesizer. It wasn’t until I looked further into Garson’s discography that it became apparent the album was actually one of his later works, appearing near the very end of his decade-long career of recording albums. While this record might only appeal to a niche group, the select few who appreciate such left-field rarities, it’s still pretty pleasing to most I’ve shared it with.
Give it a listen yourself, wherever you stream such things, or better still, buy the physical LP direct from Sacred Bones in standard black or deluxe green vinyl.