Grade: 4.0/5.0 (if you’re a plant)
There are many exciting, organic ways to celebrate Earth Day next week on April 22. If you’re feeling particularly in touch with nature, let your house plants and local backyard foliage celebrate with some music written just for them!
Yes, plant music exists. In 1976, Canadian composer Mort Garson created Mother Earth’s Plantasia, a 10-track electronic mix with a cover that describes it as “warm earth music for plants… and the people who love them.” This summer, it is being reissued by Sacred Bones Records, and is also currently available to stream on digital platforms. The cult album was made for our photosynthesizing friends, so although this review is written by a human, we will do our best to get in touch with the ultimate plant perspective.
The concept of music for plants did not originate with Garson. In 1973, occult authors Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird wrote a book called “The Secret Life of Plants.” In the book, they claim that plants — in addition to being telepathic and able to listen to our prayers and receive messages from distant galaxies — really vibe with some musical jams.
And the wackiness of this album doesn’t stray too far from the absurdity of the book. Many of the songs on Mother Earth’s Plantasia are written with a specific type of plant in mind. Whether it’s describing the plant in sparks of sound or dedicating a tune to the energy of a particular specimen, the album interacts with a multitude of familiar foliage.
Each track on the album holds a psychedelic consistency that could remind listeners of early 2000s Nintendo games or some galactic experience they had in a dream. “Symphony For A Spider Plant,” for instance, has a bounce that channels the buoyancy of the long blades of a spider plant itself.
The first track, “Plantasia,” is a joyous mix of glittering dream pop and high-pitched whistling. It flows abruptly into a synthesized, sci-fi melody that could be the soundtrack of anyone’s otherworldly gardening adventures, whatever that may entail.
This continues into “Baby’s Tears Blues,” which almost emulates the wail of a baby actually crying. This crying, however, is much more pleasant than that of an actual infant, as it is set to a jazzy swing beat and features background synth for days. The overuse of synth on these songs gives them a cartoonish vein, fitting for the plant audience more so than the human listeners.
“Rhapsody in Green” seems to pull meaning from the cover art of this album, featuring two humans embracing the base of a towering plant in a pot. There’s a sonic element drawn into this image, suggesting that this song — and all others on this compilation — are just meant to represent that relationship between natural elements and human experience.
This relationship builds into more of a celebration with “Swingin’ Spathiphyllums,” the most up-tempo track on the album. It’s hard to tell what exactly this song is about just by the title, but a spathiphyllums is the more scientific name for what is commonly known as a peace lily. While this track isn’t exactly peaceful in sound, it does bring together an aural serenity for both humans and hedges to enjoy.
The song “You Don’t Have To Walk A Begonia” is just absurd, even more so than those making up the rest of the album. It gives a circus-esque sound to listeners, and while pleasantly childlike, the title mixed with the actual song could make anyone question the sobriety of our aforementioned composer Mr. Garson upon writing it.
Overall, most plants would probably rate this album 4.0/5.0 because plants probably enjoy high pitched sounds. To the human ear, however, the constant shimmering can sometimes be a little jarring. At the end of the day, give your rhododendrons something to look forward to — bop some Mother Earth’s Plantasia.