Music for Plants and Other Wonderful and Bizarre Concept Albums
A concept album adds a whole new dimension to a musical work; sprinkling every word and sound with extra imagination and meaning; allowing it to unfold like a sonic work of fiction. Below are some truly spectacular concept albums that will bring you, the listener, to another plane of existence.
L. Ron Hubbard - Space Jazz
You have most likely heard of L.Ron Hubbard; founder of the Church of Scientology; you may not know however, that in 1982, he composed a full length album called Space Jazz; which served as a soundtrack to his sci-fi book, Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000.
Battlefield Earth is about Earth being ruled and dominated by an alien species called the Psychlos, and man becoming an endangered species; which leads to a human rebellion (the book itself is actually really good, he was a fantastic science fiction writer). It was said that this was the first album that was written as a soundtrack to a book; and a lot of the album features the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument (Fairlight CMI - see below) The old school Sci-Fi sound effects fused with jazz make for a truly unusual and surreal listening experience.
The Fairlight CMI
Mother Earth's Plantasia - Album by Mort Garson
As a result of the 1973 book ‘The Secret Life of Plants’, people were made aware of the fact that plants were not only sentient; but that they also enjoyed music. This gave way to a whole new genre of album; music specifically made for plants.
Mother Earth’s Plantasia was only available if you bought a plant from Mother Earth Plant Boutique in Los Angeles ( one of the owners Joel Rapp had been a writer on Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island and My Favorite Martian) or if you bought a specific type of mattress from Sears.
Released in 1976; the album in its entirety was composed on a Moog synthesizer. Mort Garson worked as an arranger, session musician and a composer (some famous examples being his string arrangements for Glen Campell and Doris Day) and co-wrote several hit songs. This is a soothing, relaxing and slightly otherworldly album, play it to your plants, play it to yourself, and enter a spider plant greenscape utopia in your mind.
The Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery And Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe (1987 Remix)
Released in 1976; this album is a retelling of the Edgar Allen Poe stories, via the lyrical and musical themes of the album; with the 1987 remix featuring narration from Orson Welles.
This was the debut album of British rock band The Alan Parsons Project (made up of Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson); Parsons having worked at Abbey Road Studio as an engineer, such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon (for which he received a Grammy nomination) and The Beatles’ Let It Be and Abbey Road.
It opens with A Dream Within a Dream, which could be used as part of a morning meditation, with its glimmering, entracing synthesis. The Raven feature’s Parson’s vocals run through EMI vocoder; before going into a huge wall of sound. The expected gothic nature of the album comes into play in Fall of The House of Usher, which features ominous synthesizers and classical music. It ends on The One In Paradise, which sounds like a psychedelic Beatles song; with lush harmonies and otherworldly instrumentation.
Poe - Haunted
Released in 2004, Haunted is a companion to the book House of Leaves (written by Poe’s brother Mark Z. Danielewski); and is an ode to their father (Tad Danielewski - a Polish Avant Garde film director and acting teacher) who passed away.
Produced by Poe, Haunted has all the magical, grungy qualities of music from the early 2000s; but every sound, and every word is infused with so much imagination, sorrow, with the deeply unsettling sound design pulling you right into the uneasy world of House of Leaves.
It has the quality of a found cassette tape (very much like the manuscript at the center of House of Leaves) due to the glitchy nature of the sound effects and the processing; and it also features audio recordings of their father who recorded himself speaking throughout his life. This is a truly fantastic album in every sense - from the concept, right down to the delivery.
The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stages 1-6 (Complete)
This is unlike anything you have ever heard before.
Released between 2016 - 2019, The Caretaker’s Everywhere At The End Of Time, Stages 1 -6, serve as a sonic reflection of the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease. It is mainly sample based; The Caretaker using samples from old ballroom classics, and applying different techniques and effects to these samples, which all weave together to form a timeline that goes from warm, happy, sun soaked memories in a garden of golden honeysuckle; to a pit of deep, primal fear, horror and unease.
What are some concept albums you came across recently? Let us know in the comments!
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