It was made by an easy-listening songwriter and given away free with mattresses. Now thanks to YouTubes algorithm, Mort Garsons Plantasia has become an underground hit
In the early noughties, Caleb Braaten was working in a secondhand record shop in Denver, Colorado, when he came across an album that looked intriguing. The cover of Mother Earths Plantasia featured a cartoon of two people cuddling a houseplant, and came with a free horticultural booklet. Best of all, it claimed that its intended audience wasnt human: you were supposed to play its warm Earth music to plants to aid in their growing.
So I put it on and, man, I absolutely immediately fell in love with it, says Braaten, who now runs Sacred Bones Records. Theres something about it that is immediately nostalgic. It takes you to this warm place in the past. Its tickling those same senses as something from your childhood. I think people who didnt even grow up with that stuff also feel that same warm sensation of I dont know. Its very interesting.
The more Braaten learned about the album, the stranger its story seemed. It was the work of the late Mort Garson, a musician and easy-listening songwriter who co-wrote Our Day Will Come, the 1963 Ruby and the Romantics single later covered by everyone from James Brown to Amy Winehouse, and an arranger responsible for the shimmer of strings on Glen Campbells By the Time I Get to Phoenix. He was also a film and TV composer whose music soundtracked the US broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and a synthesiser pioneer who probably should be mentioned in the same breath as early electronics heroes Wendy Carlos, Beaver and Krause, and Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff. Yet he seldom is, possibly because of an aversion to putting his own name on his albums: 1967s The Zodiac came out under the name Cosmic Sounds, 1971s Black Mass was credited to Lucifer.
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