The late American composer Mort Garson had one of pop music’s most unlikely and eclectic discographies. Following a string of hits that includes the timeless “Our Day Will Come” and mod arrangements for crooners Doris Day and Mel Tormé, Garson became a trailblazer in the then-nascent electronic music scene and an early proponent and songwriter for the Moog synthesizer. The late ’60s and early ’70s saw Garson produce a string of psychedelic-themed proto-techno albums that riff wildly on The Wizard of Oz, Hair, The Sensuous Woman, and The Little Prince. He also did a fair amount of commercial work, including a promotional LP titled Mother Earth’s Plantasia for a Los Angeles garden center. The album was marketed as music both “for plants and the people who love them” and included electro odes to violets and symphonies for spider plants.
Improbably, Plantasia has had a lasting impact as a cult record, sampled prolifically by DJs, venerated as a $200 find by vinyl collectors, and beloved as a YouTube trip toy. The vast majority of Garson’s work is long out of print, but specialty label Sacred Bones has just begun what will hopefully be a full reissue, starting with a repressing of Plantasia on CD and LP. The record will be available in limited-edition green vinyl and come packed with goodies, including a packet of seeds. In anticipation of Plantasia’s release on June 21, Sacred Bones has already made the album available on all major streaming services, but if any work deserves a communal listening party, it’s this one. Where better to host than in the greenest house possible: the Brooklyn Botanic Garden?
BBG’s glass-walled conservatory will be the setting for three 75-minute after-hours listening sessions, introduced by musician and “interactive ecology designer” Mileece. She’ll also be providing a unique A/V component for the evening’s entertainment with a contraption that converts nearby botanical and human bioelectric feedback into cues and colors for a high-tech light show. In keeping with this mystical science theme, photographer Jacqueline Castel will be displaying a gallery of her vegetable and animal Kirlian photography within the conservatory. Attendees will have an opportunity to try their hand at programming their own Moog compositions on an updated music machine and see the original synthesizer that Garson used to create Plantasia.
Once you’ve finished listening, Brooklyn Botanic Garden invites you to stick around for guided tours of the grounds, a live performance by indie-electronic producer Patricia, and an interactive “Sonic Succulents” exhibition. Dinner and drinks, featuring vegetarian options grown on-site and delicious botanical cocktails, will be available, so come hungry and bring a green ear for this chlorophyll concerto for all the senses.
Mort Garson’s Plantasia
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
990 Washington Avenue, Crown Heights
Tuesday, June 18
5 and 6:30 p.m.
$40; $13 add-on for Plantasia CD; $21 add-on for vinyl