John Carpenter | “Skeleton” and Anthology

John Carpenter | “Skeleton” and Anthology

At the end of August, just in time for spooky season, legendary composer, writer, director and somewhat newly minted touring musician, John Carpenter released a new single, Skeleton, on Sacred Bones Records. This was Carpenters first new music since returning to the Halloween franchise to score 2018’s Halloween and his first new non-film release since the stellar 2015/16 full lengths Lost Themes I and Lost Themes II. Skeleton was released with the B-side Unclean Spirit

Skeleton is classic John Carpenter, but departs a bit from his soundtrack work. The first layer introduced is a driving 4/4 sequence with just enough wobble to give the track a bit of industrial drive. The progression is pretty simple, but the layered countermelodies bring out all sorts of interesting nuance. Skeleton also incorporates some big guitar parts that blend nicely and nod to the crunchy tones from In The Mouth of Madness or Christine.

For its part, Unclean Spirit seems like it would fit very well into a Halloween film, or as a resolution track following of the eerie, octave jumping call and response of The Fog.

It’s definitely a must-listen, and given that this is our favorite time of year, I would suggest diving into some of John Carpenter’s classic themes and non-film recordings as well.

John Carpenter is probably best known as a horror director…not just a horror director, but maybe the best known and most influential genre director in American cinema. And the thing about genre directors that makes them almost more impressive than more mainstream directors is an uncanny DIY ethic: an ability to make something out of nothing, to pull magic from the air with whatever tools are offered…sort of the John Lennon “give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it” mentality.

And John Carpenter has always brought that ethos to his music. No budget? No problem. No time? Don’t need it. We’ll get a deceptivelybig sound. 

I read that Carpenter composed and recorded his entire Assault on Precinct 13 theme in a few days on an EMS VCS3, which I believe retailed for about $500 in 1969. And the Halloween theme was made in a similar manner. The film was made for $320,000. The Shape (Michael Myers) was a spray painted William Shatner mask and a pair of coveralls. The film didn’t have a sountrack (or soundtrack budget), so Carpenter wrote the entire score in 3 days and recorded it on borrowed synths in under 2 weeks. 

Today, 42 years later, Halloween is a classic film and that creepy 5/4 theme is one of the most recognizable and eponymous pieces in film history. And it lives outside of film as well. There is not a synthwave or darkwave, or whatever artist on the planet who doesn’t cite John Carpenter as a key influence both sonically and practically. I’ve made entire albums based just on things I learned from studying John Carpenter. We all owe him royalties.

As singularly creepy as the themes for Halloween, The Fog and The Thing are, there is also some very interesting diversity in the John Carpenter catalog. I would point to: the jug-jug action theme from Big Trouble in Little China, the somewhat soaring C Maj theme from Starman, and of course, the electronic showtune blues from They Live.

Skeleton is available on vinyl in several color options from Sacred Bones Records. And while you’re shoppng, consider picking up Lost Themes, Lost Themes II, John Carpenter’s Anthology and the 2018 Halloween OST.

And if yu’re considering a Halloween franchise movie maraton this week, it’s good to now that there is no canon beyond Halloween I and II. I read (somewhere, sometime in a nerd forum) that the original plan for the franchise was to make a two-part slasher and then work with a different story every year. But after Halloween III, America was knee deep in the 80’s and only wanted slasher franchises, so we never got to see the anthology strategy play out. Anyway, here’s my suggested viewing order:

Halloween III (standalone)

Halloween I, Halloween II, Halloween IV, Halloween V, Halloween VI (aka Halloween Paul Rudd). This will get you through the entire cult plot.

Halloween 2018. Tying a through-line back to the OG films.

Halloween H20 (aka Halloween LL Cool J). A divergent timeline 20 years after the original.

Halloween Resurrection (aka Halloween Busta Rhymes). Totally standalone, but there is a Jamie Lee Curtis intro!

Halloween Rob Zombie and Halloween Rob Zombie II. I think they’re underrated.

Happy Haunting!

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QooA Review | Maude Oil no.0

QooA Review | Maude Oil no.0

Maude is a modern intimacy company. It’s right there in the tagline: “Sex Made Simple”. And it’s a QooA staff favorite for just that reason. Maude makes minimal, uncomplicated, accessible and really high quality products for use before, during and after sex.

But Maude is the best kind of intimacy company, because they realize that the process is holistic. If your body doesn’t feel good, or you don’t feel good about your body, you likely aren’t going to have good sex…or good anything…unless not feeling good is your kink.

So we were really excited to learn about the expansion of Maude products to focus on body care, and to get our hands on the first product in their new body line. This weekend, I had a chance to try out Maude Oil no.0. Here’s what happened:

As an old, middling-to-good, but still active athlete, I have a lot of busted parts. We’re talking multiple back surgeries for an exploded L4/5 and L5/S1, a foot drop, two torn patellars, bursitis in the shoulder, a couple kinked ribs and countless other little tears and breaks. As someone who deals with chronic pain, I do an incredible amount of physical therapy and massage, and in COVID America, that means stretching at home, partner massage at home, self massage, percussive therapy and a whole bunch of electrodes. You would be right to assume that I go through a lot of massage oil and muscle rub.

Over the past few days, I incoporated Maude Oil no. 0 into my regular routine. I used it to work out my girlfriend’s neck after a bad sleep, to rub and thump my lower back, and to work on my shoulders after a couple days of surfing, throwing a foootball and regular exercise. Overall, I would say it was super pleasant and relaxing.

 

The first thing that struck me about the Maude Oil was its consistency…or I guess viscosity? It’s clear and thin. It’s slippery, but doesn’t interfere with grip. And it’s not at all sticky or greasy. After using it, I was able to do things like put on a shirt, use my computer, live my life, etc. It felt warming enough to loosen things up, but not aggressive or warming-as-a-feature.

Another selling point for me was the absorption and economy of the product. A little went a long way and it felt hydrating. It lasted through some good, deep knot work and hung around for skin softness. Oil no.0 is organic and contains Jojoba oil, MCT oil, Argan oil and Castor oil and is, as far as I can tell, completely odorless. Eveyone has a preferred scent, but IMO, the best scent is usually no scent.

 

I’ve included some unboxing photos here, as I also really like the product’s presentation. The packaging is minimal and pleasing, and the glass bottle was packed in a little cloth draw bag, so there wasn’t a bunch of plastic garbage to deal with.

Hot take conclusion: I’ve only used the oil for a weekend, but I will absolutely continue to. It’s a really good massage oil. The instructions note that it can also be mixed into water for use as a bath oil, so we may put that on the list for this week.

You can find Oil no.0 and several other selections from Maude in our breakout shop. And stay tuned. We’ll be trying some new body products from them soon.

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Jim Gordon | The Greatest Rock N Roll Tragedy

Jim Gordon | The Greatest Rock N Roll Tragedy

For a long time, I’ve been sort of obsessed with the career of Jim Gordon. The studio system of the twentieth century created a very interesting scenario wherein certain session musicians seemed to appear on every hit song of their time. In LA, We’re talking Carol Kaye, James Burton, Hal Blaine. There were a few standout session musicians who were also successful solo musicians (the Leon Russells, Billy Prestons and and Glen Campbells) and there were a few who were members of successful bands (Plastic Ono Band and Manfred Mann member, Klaus Voormann, pretty much everyone in Bread). And then there was Jim Gordon: One of the most prolific drummers and multi-instrumentalists of his time, Derek And The Dominos member and composer whose life descended, savagely and (seemingly) abruptly, into a bloody nightmare of mental illness.

I’ve often wondered why Hollywood has never gone in on a Jim Gordon biopic, but when it’s time to write it, I hope they come see me (self plug: I crush 3 act structure). It’s one hell of a story. And I mean hell in every sense.

The Layla Curse

When Derek And The Dominos released Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs in 1971, it didn’t perform well. The album was a curveball for Eric Clapton fans. A lot of people didn’t even know he was “Derek”. It failed to chart in the UK. It tanked. And as a single, Layla didn’t fare much better. Released for radio in its original, sub-three minute form, without the piano coda, it peaked at #51.

But a year later, it was re-released at a full 7 minutes (because cocaine, probably) and it was a smash. The full version charted #7 in the UK and #10 in the US. Ten years later, it was released again (this time definitely because cocaine) and it hit #4. It is universally considered one of the best rock recordings ever and includes what is almost unquestionably the most notable coda in modern music.

There are a lot of factors that go into a song’s popularity and chart performance, but one has to think there’s something magical about that piano coda. Layla was a weird recording. Beyond the fact that it was the centerpiece of an album that Clapton wrote with the explicit goal of stealing his best friend’s wife (his best friend was George Harrison…Jim Gordon was George’s drummer too), it was written as an acoustic ballad. Note: in 1992 it was released again as an acoustic single and won a Grammy. During recording, the acoustic ballad became a 2 minute rocker when Duane Allman joined the sessions and wrote the signature riff. Then, legend has it, about a week after completion of the record, Clapton heard Jim Gordon playing a piano composition and convinced him to record it as an appendage to the original song. Jim agreed and recorded the piano part. They pitched it up almost to the key of the other movement, Clapton and Allman played dueling guitar parts, seagull sound, picture wrap, the rest is history.

But magic has two sides, and there is a persistent urban legend that holds that Layla is a cursed song. Maybe it‘s the song’s uncomfortable origins, or the heroic drug and alcohol intake of its creators. Maybe it’s hyper-focus on a bunch of coincidences, but the legend is a spooky one. After the release of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek And The Dominos disbanded. Duane Allman died in 1971, before getting to see the success of the single. Bassist Carl Radle died of liver failure in his thirties. Clapton himself, riding a flop album and the short end of a love triangle, embarked on a 3 year heroin binge. But the worst casualty of the curse, if there is such a thing, was Jim Gordon. We’ll come back to that.

The Valley

Jim Gordon was sort of a prodigy. He grew up in the valley. He was classically trained and a skilled composer. And he was one hell of a drummer. He was playing bars and clubs and weddings in high school. He was awarded a music scholarship to UCLA, but decided to pass on it to become Hal Blaine’s protege and go REALLY pro. He started playing drums REALLY professionally at 17, backing the Everly Brothers in the studio and in live performances. Before long, he became a staple of LA session work and developed into one of the most sought-after studio and backing musicians in the game. Like a lot of great drummers, he could play just about anything. He was credited for contributing flute, sax, clarinet, piano, horns, organ and vocals on some of the most recognizable songs in modern history. But the drums. The drums were the thing.

All Things Must Pass

Jim was George Harrison’s drummer of choice for All Things Must Pass, contributing the backbeat to what might be the greatest post-Beatles-Beatles album. And he didn’t limit his talents to George. Jim also played for John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band (and some solo Yoko efforts). Hell…he even played for Ringo. That’s a drummer’s drummer.

Pet Sounds

Jim played on a few Beach Boys albums, including Pet Sounds. He was credited with drums or percussion on a couple Pet Sounds tracks. In some notes, he’s listed as playing the “orange juice cups” on God Only Knows. The clopping percussion on God Only Knows was one of the things that made that record. Orange Juice cups, man. He also performed live with the Beach Boys when they played with the Royal Philharmonic.

Nilsson Schmilsson

John Lennon’s favorite collaborator and Lost Weekend drinking buddy, Harry Nilsson tapped Jim as his drummer of choice on several records including Nilsson Schmilsson. Those classic drum and percussion parts on Gotta Get Up, Coconut and Jump Into The Fire were all Jim Gordon.

The Last Waltz

Jim played with The Band. He didn’t play drums because…you know…Levon Helm, but you can see him in The Last Waltz playing woods and horns. I kid you not.

Jim Gordon played on Mad Dogs and Englishmen. He played on The Pretender. He played on a lot of the great albums and tours of the era.

Looking for the Woodstock sound? Jim played on albums with Crosby Stills and Nash, Country Joe, Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds.

Need a blues drummer? Jim played with BB King, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy.

Country? Jim appears on albums by Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Glenn Campbell, Charlie Daniels, John Denver, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Tasteful folk percussion, you say? Jim appears on hits by Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, The Carpenters, Carole King and Donovan.

Need somebody to drum for the Monkees? Jim Gordon.

Need somebody to drum for the Muppets? Jim Gordon.

In the late 60’s and 70’s, Jim played with artists as stylistically diverse and disparate as Neil Diamond, Mel Tormé, Yoko Ono, Frank Zappa, Nancy Sinatra, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Mama Cass, Hall And Oates, Steely Dan, Leon Russell, Judy Collins and Cher. A complete catalog of Jim Gordon’s contributions to popular music would be hard to assemble, but just his explicitly credited studio work reads like an exhaustive history of late-60’s and 70’s hits.

Wichita Lineman? Jim Gordon.

You’re So Vain? With Kalus Voormann on bass? The big build and tasteful cymbals and wood block? Jim Gordon.

Power To The People? Again with Voormann? And the forever morphing Ringo-style fills? Jim Gordon. Note: there is a documentary on the unbelievable career of Klaus Voormann. I can’t find it in the US, but will report back when I do.

Jump Into The Fire? The long and awesome drum/percussion solo? That’s him. Also, Klaus Voormann again!

Grazing In The Grass? The drum break before the guitar solo? That’s him too. Can you dig it?

Sundown? Digging that nice pocket for the acoustic guitar? Yep.

Wasn’t Born To Follow? Driving with the jazz triplets then freaking out with the flange? Guess who?

The aforementioned clopity-clops on God Only Knows? Same guy.

Those perfect snare rolls on Dry Your Eyes? That’s Jim too.

As a matter of fact, here’s a playlist of all of those songs, plus Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Rich Girl, Marrakesh Express, The Carpenters version of There’s A Kind of Hush, It Makes No Difference, All Things Must Pass, Joan Baez’ cover of Simple Twist of Fate, Classical Gas, and The Rainbow Connection, for good measure.

The man had an amazing career. And now the tragic part.

The Tragic Part

Here’s the part that everyone knows.

In 1983, Jim Gordon attacked his mother in her home and beat her with a hammer before stabbing her to death with a butcher knife. When authorities arrived, Gordon revealed to them that he had been hearing voices in his head, most prominently that of his mother. At the time of her death, his mother had been very present in his life and treating him better than anyone on the planet, but he viewed her as a mystically malevolent being and accused her of urging him to do all manner of things, including murder her. Later he would vacillate between the knowledge that he had murdered his mother and the belief that his mother was still alive and wreaking evil on the world.

And the voices weren’t new. Jim Gordon was an undiagnosed schizophrenic. He had been hearing voices since his youth, had suffered with paranoia and had engaged in several violent (sometimes public) episodes, almost entirely involving the women in his life. He had been an abuser. He had treated ex-wives and girlfriends violently, often believing that they were somehow silently harming him, conspiring against him, putting curses on him, etc. And, like many paranoid schizophrenics, he had a deranged and obsessive focus on his mother. And people knew it.

Also Jim Gordon was an addict. Throughout his career, he consumed absolutely mythical quantities of alcohol, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, LSD and, one would assume, whatever else was on the table. And while doing so, he remained highly functional and professional…until he didn’t. He was self medicating for well over a decade, and doing a damn good job of it by most accounts. He never missed a gig, he never missed a cue, he never missed a beat and he never wrote a stinky part. Because of his singular talent and ability, Jim Gordon was able to keep working at the highest level of his industry despite several violent incidents. But eventually, the wheels fell off. Jim became unable to keep it together. He started working less, he turned down a personal invitation to tour with Bob Dylan, he isolated, and eventually, he sought help for his mental illness. But because of the times, or because of America’s cultural denial of mental health as reality, or because he drank a ton, doctors dismissed him and treated him (with sedatives) for alcoholism. Things only got worse. Eventually he was medicated, but he was never involuntarily detained. Jim Gordon spent his final years as a free man checking himself in and out of psychiatric hospitals, drinking heavily to keep his head quiet and preparing for the end of the world.

It was only at Jim Gordon’s murder trial that he was given a concrete diagnosis and an appropriate prognosis. That prognosis ended up being documentary rather than cautionary. By the time Jim gordon made it to court for the murder of his mother, he didn’t have a grasp on reality, he had attempted suicide multiple times and, frankly, his record spoke for itself. In 1984, Jim Gordon was sentenced to 16 to life.

I Bet You Think This Song Is About You

The 60’s and 70’s were wild times. And the music industry, back when it was relatively music-friendly and run by music people, was a goddamn bacchanal. But the fact that this sort of clear and present decline is allowed to play out in plain sight is a cultural failure. And this isn’t just a historical failure.

If Jim Gordon was working today, we would cancel him. Everyone would tweet their indignation, but no one would help him. And no one would provide continuing support for his surviving victims. Cancel, tweet, repeat. That’s how we do. In the arts, as in many industries, we tend to willfully ignore mental illness. Most of us honestly still don’t know a lot about mental health, and when mental illnesses, mood disorders and substance abuse combine, they can present a virtually indecipherable and inconsistent combination of symptoms. And despite the chaos and operational inconvenience, if the work is still good and the cash machine is still printing, acute schizophrenia can be ignored. And when it can’t? Cancel, tweet, repeat.

But I suppose that’s also just one person’s opinion. And opinions, they say, are like assholes.

Coda

Jim Gordon remains incarcerated in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. He is 75 years old and is still considered a danger to himself and others. He has surviving family. I don’t know what he or they would think of this version of his story. I know he’s done and has to live with horrible things, but I don’t know if he’s aware of that. I don’t know what kind of man he is or what his personality is like. Nobody’s heard it from the horse’s mouth in a long time…and that too, is a shame. But maybe I’ll send him in a letter. And maybe I’ll hear back. And I’ll let you know.

Miss Tosh | A Dance For All

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A Layman’s Guide to Visualizing 10 Dimensions

A Layman’s Guide to Visualizing 10 Dimensions

Disclaimer

I initially posted this as a series of Instagram stories, which people found surprisingly entertaining given the nerdiness of the subject matter. I think maybe my total lack of expertise made it more fun and easier to understand. So, a disclaimer: this exercise is for fun and brain-stretching only. Don’t take it as hard science, and please forgive any technical inaccuracies.

Dimensions

When we talk about a dimension, what we are really talking about is a degree of freedom, or an axis.

A point has no dimensions. It exists at one, fixed spacetime coordinate and has no variable or degree-of-freedom.

The first dimension can be represented as a line. A line has one degree of freedom.

The second dimension can be represented by a plane. It has two axes (X,Y). Any position on a plane can be defined with two measurements.

The third dimension (you know this one!) can be defined by a cube. A cube has 3 degrees of freedom (X,Y,Z), has volume, and is, basically, space as we experience it.

Typically, we talk about the fourth dimension as time (at least we experience it as time). If we think about space as being three dimensional, but existing through time, then we can identify any point in spacetime with 4 axes (X,Y,Z,T). Let’s look at a few ways to “visualize” time.

Easy 4D Visualizations Explained

Imagine a 2d being trying to experience the third dimension. The only way a 2d being could experience a cube would be to pass through it, one 2D slice at a time.

However we, as 3D beings can experience the whole cube at once. So if we use time to represent the fourth dimension, we can say that we (as 3D beings) can only experience time one 3D slice at a time. But a 4D being would experience all time simultaneously, just as we can experience all planes of a cube simultaneously.

Here’s another way to picture time. If you poke your finger through the air, it passes through infinite 2D planes. A 2D creature living on one of those planes wouldn’t experience your moving finger, but a 2d cross section of a finger. In the same way, if a 4D being poked through spacetime, you wouldn’t see it as it is, you would see it as a 3d cross section or a blob.

The 4th dimension is easy to visualize because we are conscious of time. We’re experiencing it all the…time. And though we can’t see all time at once, higher dimensions are ‘leaky’ so there may be little hints of the fourth dimension as a nonlinear dimension in our daily lives.

When people experience deja vu or hallucinations or see ghosts…these might be little overlapping slices telling us that multiple times (T1, T2, etc) can coexist at a common set of space coordinates (X,Y,Z).

The 5th and 6th Dimensions

The fifth and sixth dimensions are closely related. in these dimensions, possible realities come into play and we start experiencing the less tangible dimensions 5–10

So before we talk about the invisible dimensions, a couple good explanations

As stated earlier, we usually define a dimension as an axis, a new degree of freedom with infinite variables. We experience spacetime in four dimensions, so we can find coordinates in spacetime with input from 4 axes, X,Y,Z,T.

The higher dimensions (5–10) are hard to see. It might be easiest to represent these higher dimensions as “folds”. I.e. if you use a piece of paper to represent a plane, and you fold that piece of paper in 2, every point on the paper has a twin that coexists at the same XY coordinates. You have another axis!

And though we can’t see higher dimensions, they are theoretically apparent in the curvature of spacetime. Here’s the ant example:

If an ant is walking a straight line down the center of a piece of paper, and you roll that paper into a tube, the ant won’y know he’s in a 3 dimensional tunnel, but if he veers right or left, he’ll be in the upside-down.

Now on to the 5th dimension, 6th dimension, causality and alternate realities…

In 4D, all time is stacked and navigable, but it only accounts for one event at each coordinate in spacetime. However, we know that if time can be navigable, it can theoretically be non-linear.

Theoretically, if you went back in time and then forward again, just as in space, you may not necessarily move forward on the same line each time. You might veer right or left (like the ant)and would create alternate realities that occupy the same XYZT coordinates…you would need a 5th axis!

If you watch sci-fi, you know all about the 5th dimension already. You can imagine the 5th dimension as a plane where all possible timelines (or branches of time) stretching back to the big bang live. Sometimes it’s called a probability plane.

One way to think of visualize navigating the 5th dimension is to think of it as climbing a tree. Imagine you were climbing a tree to 20 feet, and then you climbed back down, and back up to 20 feet, but on a different branch…both routes get you to 20 feet but they never intersect, and you can’t jump from one to the other because they diverted way down at the trunk. each choice creates a network of new choices and different realities or branches, Causality!

If you think of an event as a point, every event that led to it or is affected by it exists on its branch, and everything else is…elsewhere.

Now, what if you wanted to explore all the branches without climbing back down and up and potentially ending up on the wrong branch? You would have to ‘fold’ the tree so that all of the branches at the same height could be experienced at once. You would need to eliminate causality as a determiner of an event, to make the branches non-linear. you would need a new axis. You would need the 6th dimension!

But here’s where it gets really physics-y and theoretical…the 6th dimension is still dependent on

A) our universe’s point of origin.

B) our universe’s laws.

So if we want to account for possibilities outside of these constraints, we need more dimensions!

In the same way that the 5th and 6th dimension are interrelated, the 7th and 8th are bound to each other.

7, 8, 9, Multiverse

In the seventh dimension, we add the following degree of freedom: different origins and laws. The first six dimensions apply to our universe, with its specific origin and physical laws, but other dimensions may have different origins and be governed by entirely different laws. So, if we continue with the event tracing illustration, multiple origins mean we would need another axis to trace any event back on the probability plane.

We are now in the multiverse!

Now, if we wanted to compare all of the events that coincide across all of the different universes, each with it’s own origin, we would have to be able to fold the 7th dimension over another plane so that all of the origins coexist…we would need an 8th dimension.

In the 8th dimension, we assume that all laws in all universes remain…well…universal. Theoretically, however, laws could evolve differently from the same point of origin, creating divergent universes that COULD occupy the same coordinates in 8 dimensions. To account for this, we need a 9th dimension…in the 9th dimension, we can account for all events in all universes, with all points of origin, and all possible laws.

And finally the 10th dimension. The tenth dimension, in my very humble opinion, represents the unknown. It is all of the other variables that would be necessary to assess all data in all of existence simultaneously. It is the everything fold.

I hope this all made sense! It’s a lot to digest. If it DID make sense and you would like to learn more, there are countless great books on quantum physics for regular people, but I think the best place to start might be Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. It was written in 1884 as a satirical allegory using math to illustrate different social strata. It experienced a resurgence after Einstein presented his theory of relativity, and has been name-checked by Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking as a good way to introduce higher dimensions to anyone.

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Mother Earth’s Plantasia | Sun, Soil, Water, Jams

If you aren’t familiar with Mort Garson’s 1976 album, Mother Earth’s Plantasia, you’re likely wondering why this is the first vinyl offered in the QooA shop. If you ARE familiar with the 1976 masterpiece oddity, then it should make total sense.

Garson’s Plantasia has been, over the years, sort of a sought-after curiosity, not only for the way in which it was recorded and distributed, but also for the fact that it is a really, really good record that went mostly unheard for the first four decades of it’s existence.

Plantasia is a concept album, self-produced in Garson’s Laurel Canyon home (completely on a Moog modular) with a very specific target audience: plants. As the logline, “Warm earth music for plants and the people who love them” indicates, this music is intended to nurture our flora friends. And when it was released in 1976, the idea that human music and/or positive vibes have a direct impact on plant health was a sort of revolutionary one: as old as time but either new or forgotten in most of the western world.

Garson was a successful songwriter and arranger, working both in pop music (with at least one Billboard #1 under his belt) and in soundtracks, but Plantasia was a personal project. He self-released the record, pressed a limited run and sold it only at Mother Earth plant shop on Melrose, which was, incidentally, owned by another plant-loving couple from the music industry. Legend has it the album was also distributed as a free giveaway with every Sears mattress. Order a new mattress, get a record to help the plants in your room grow…that is some 70’s shit, man. And the odd distribution of Plantasia is exactly why it is such a rarity. If you heard it before 2019, it was probably because someone had a bootleg, or you worked in a record store and knew a lot of collectors, or maybe heard it on a Doctor Demento episode at some  point.

Plantasia gatefold via Sacred Bones

Aside: another novel aspect of Plantasia was its reliance on the Moog. We should probably write a post about Bob Moog here, but the short version is as follows: The Moog was the first commercial analog synthesizer. It was invented by Robert Moog in 1964 and hit the market in 1965. As a complete modular workstation, it allowed composers like Garson to arrange entire pieces using one tool and, in the context of popular music, it changed everything forever.

As is the case with many early electronic albums, the tools definitely define the sound of Plantasia. Immediately identifiable, both in arrangement and melodic choices, as a relic from a very specific era, Plantasia is an essential Moog album. It freezes time without dating itself. It still sparkles.

Mort Garson in Laurel Canyon via Wikipedia

Enter: Sacred Bones Records.

In 2019, boutique Brooklyn label, Sacred Bones re-released Mother Earth’s Plantasia on vinyl and made it available on streaming services. They have pressed several runs on black vinyl and in shades of green. The copies all come with a seed card so that you can test the effects of Plantasia on your green babies and, to our knowledge, they all sell out very fast. We found a new copy on green vinyl for the SHOP, and it looks like there is a new two-LP edition, as well as an 8 track coming out via Sacred Bones. We’ll update this post when they arrive.

I guess that explains, in a roundabout way, why this is the first vinyl we carry. If home is the new destination, comfort is the new luxury, and nurturing is the new indulgence, then an album for plants is totally QooA style.

Good luck with your plants. Remember, they need vitamins, water, sun, love and some tunes every day.

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