Plantasia celebrates the music of Mort Garson—and plants | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Plantasia celebrates the music of Mort Garson—and plants 

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click to enlarge Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson

Maria Tzeka

On his 1976 album Mother Earth’s Plantasia, composer Mort Garson captures some of the most inventive sounds and most radical notions of the mid-70s. Specifically, he made his goofy and endearing compositions solely on the relatively new Moog synthesizer, and he intended that they be played for plants to help them grow. Inspired by his wife’s houseplants, the work of Robert Moog, and a controversial 1973 book about plant sentience, Garson created a wholesome mix of sounds, including playful arpeggios, dainty melodies, and warm textures. Over the decades Plantasia developed a cult following, and this past summer the album (initially distributed through a modest houseplant store) was reissued for the first time by Brooklyn label Sacred Bones. To celebrate the album’s wonky-weird goodness, the label is partnering with hidden-wonders blog Atlas Obscura and Empty Bottle Presents to host an event at Garfield Park Conservatory that features Plantasia listening sessions and live interpretations of its music by local musicians. Sacred Bones and Atlas Obscura have paired up for similar events in other cities, and for the Chicago edition they brought on EBP’s Brent Heyl and musician Whitney Johnson (aka Matchess) to curate a lineup of artists from the city’s electronica and experimental scenes. The night will feature a slew of musicians—including Johnson, Andy Ortmann, Natalie Chami of TALsounds, Ben Billington, Emma Hospelhorn, Jim Magas, and Chandeliers—reimagining Plantasia in two timed sessions. Rob Sevier of the Numero Group will spin ambient music between sets, Jacqueline Castel will demonstrate “plant aura” photography (that is, Kirlian photographs of plants), and Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts will close the evening with an outdoor ambient set. Humans have a vital relationship with plants, of course, and this event invites us to recognize it with gratitude and awe.   v

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