A Soul-Nourishing Album for Your Plants
The plant market comprises an ever-expanding array of things—foods, fertilizers, grow lights—that promise to help houseplants reach their full potential. But beyond the nutrient level, plant parents might wonder, how do we nourish their souls?
The question, while mystical, is not baseless. Amid the growing free-mindedness of the early 1970s, occultist and former O.S.S. agent Peter Tompkins, along with dowsing enthusiast and former C.I.A. agent Christopher Bird, wrote and published the book The Secret Life of Plants, in which they sought to probe the then-uncharted depths of the plant experience through a series of experiments. Though criticized by some botanists for promoting pseudoscientific claims, the discoveries they emerged with were nothing short of groundbreaking. Their findings suggested that plants can hear our prayers, detect lies, use telepathy, and even predict natural disasters. In essence, they concluded that plants are complex, sensory beings.
Perhaps the book’s most revelatory claim was that plants enjoy music. This finding set into motion a slew of albums made specifically for plants, the most prominent of which was Canadian composer and electronic music pioneer Mort Garson’s 1976 album, Mother Earth’s Plantasia. Subtitled “Warm earth music for plants… and the people that love them,” the record was among the first to experiment with the modular Moog synthesizer and brims with tunes at once bucolic and otherworldly. (Another early Moog pioneer, bioacoustician and musician Bernie Krause, recently spoke with us on our At a Distance podcast about music and sound in relation to nature.) The album can be enjoyed by plants and plant-lovers alike, and includes species-specific tracks like the entrancing “Music to Soothe the Savage Snake Plant” and the rhythmic, boppy “Ode to an African Violet.” Reissued in 2019 by Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones Records, Plantasia is now available in a black vinyl edition, released this month. (The black LP is available for pre-order now via the company’s website, and will ship on January 31.)
Each of the album’s tracks is acutely informed by botany. “Every pitch is scientifically designed to affect the stomata, or breathing cells, of your plants,” Lynn and Joel Rapp, the former owners of Los Angeles’s Mother Earth Plant Boutique, write in the fully restored original booklet that accompanies the album, “opening them ever so slightly wider and allowing them to breathe ever so slightly freer, and thus, grow ever so slightly better.” Along with water, and sunlight, we suggest adding music—and this pathbreaking album in particular—to your plant-maintenance routine.