Mort Garson (Ambient Instrumental)
What up, party people?
Let me bring you back to the world of 1976. The radio waves are dominated by future legends – Queen, Elton John, Paul Simon, Wings, etc… – music is making a dramatic shift from the Classic Rock/Hippie Culture of the 60’s to a more progressive, non-traditional upbeat swing. Disco is quickly becoming the most popular music in the world. Your dad was driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass to pick up a newly invented bag of Jelly Belly’s. Out in LA, a plant shop with the sweet ‘ole name of Mother Earth was doing their thing: selling plants. Classic tracks like “Love Machine”, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, & “Afternoon Delight” are topping the charts. Life is good.
ABBA is one of the biggest acts in the world coming off releasing the (cleverly-named) album, Abba. With the introduction of Disco, we also got the rise of the synthesizer. In Germany, a man by the name of Giorgio Moroder was inventing the technology that would shape EDM as we know it. If you’ve ever heard the song “Giorgio by Moroder” by Daft Punk you’ve already heard this story.
It was at this time, a man by the name of Mort Garson was experimenting with the Moog synthesizer. Garson personally knew Robert Moog (creator of the Moog synthesizer) and learned how to use the modular synths. Garson would go on to create an album unlike almost anything in its time. Mort made an album entirely with the Moog synthesizer that was specifically for plants.
This album is entirely instrumental and 100% synthetic, or “synthesized” might be the more appropriate term (synthesonic? Synesized?). To me, this album tells a story, even without words.
It begins with a soft arrangement, tickling the senses and cleansing your palate of the imperfections around you. You live a calm, predictable life and have not yet emerged as the hero you were born to be. As the music progresses to the first crescendo, booming horns roll through the landscape – a triumphant emergence of the hero from within…and before we know it, the horns are gone…once again enveloped by the mystifying sounds of the Moog. Peaceful and calm, you journey on your way before you spot a battle on the horizon. Bombastic horns begin to rise as we again come to a crescendo. You fight hard, learn of a vast treasure ahead, and live to see another day. Finally, you find the castle with the treasure you seek. As you charge in, horns blaring, you realize you are the hero you were meant to be. A calm comes over you. You are ready for the challenge ahead. Finally, the beast emerges! You draw your sword and slay the mighty beast claiming your riches!
And that, my friends, is just the first, entirely instrumental, track.
Welcome: PLANTASIA – Warm earth music for plants…and the people who love them.
Remember that little plant shop in LA? Well, if you were lucky enough to shop there in 1976, you would have walked home with a plant and a copy of Plantasia. The only other way to obtain this record was to purchase a Simmons mattress from Sears, of all things. Now, I know this may be a shock to some of you, but, believe it or not, initial sales were…………………low.
Well now, “Jake”, you may be thinking, “why does any of this matter in the slightest”? Great question.
This matters because of the genre of Lofi. Lofi is a genre defined by deliberate imperfections in the music, like muffled sounds or distortion filters. Lofi is also now used as an umbrella term for dozens of sub-genres of music. These include things like Ambient, Bedroom Pop, Synthwave, Chillwave, Vaporwave, etc… (lots of waves, we wavy outchyea). Not to mention the spin-off genres like Lofi Hip-Hop and Lofi Pop. There are dozens of spotify playlists, youtube channels, even whole apps devoted to Lofi. You may have seen channels on Youtube that stream 24/7 called “Lofi hip hop radio – beats to sleep/game to”. If not, they usually have an avatar that looks something like this:
These channels are almost entirely instrumental, electronic music. There are dozens of artists that make a living making Lofi music. These YouTube channels sell merchandise and collect ad revenue, artists make beats for rappers, and in turn, those rappers make more money from the Lofi beats. Mort Garson is the God-Father of all of these artists; he is the reason for their very existence!
Another interesting tidbit about this album is the year it was released: 1976. If you’ve ever played a retro video game, you will connect with this album. Listen to the track “Music to Soothe the Savage Snake Plant” and tell me you don’t hear Zelda in there. The NES classic Legend of Zelda wouldn’t come for 10 years, ‘til 2/21/1986. The similarities are too obvious to ignore. Now I can’t say for certain, but I’d put money that Koji Kondo, the legendary composer for Nintendo, was extremely familiar with this album. Leave a comment below and let me know what other games you hear!
In summary, this album is a hidden classic. It is moody, unconventional, and generally a joy to listen to. It has also been proven that certain sounds can improve the immune system of plants – this album was made for this purpose (explains the plant shop, not so much the mattresses). I would highly recommend you play this album straight through in its entirety. Coffee and spliff with Moog sounds for plants is a choice way to start a morning. Plantasia has become a cult classic over the years, and with the 2019 re-release, it sounds better than ever before. I spin my vinyl of this album at least once a month. Give it a spin – if not for me, do it for your plants! Enjoy!
Keep it trill,