July 18, 2019
Music by A. Savage
If you, like many Californians in the 1970s, purchased a fern, snake plant, Madagascar dragon tree, or any philodendron from Mother Earth Plant Boutique on Melrose Avenue, chances are you also took home a copy of Plantasia. Subtitled “warm earth music for plants...and the people that love them,” the album features decidedly bucolic tunes created by musician and composer Mort Garson (on a then new-fangled analog synthesizer called the Moog).
In the decades after the release, Plantasia faded out of print—until this year, when record shop Sacred Bones announced the LP’s first official reissue. This summer A. Savage, the artist and frontman for rock band Parquet Courts, created an exclusive homage for Soft—Space to mark the release. Titled Sleep Gardening, the soundtrack is inspired by the same cult vinyl.
I kept asking the recording engineer if he was feeling sleepy, and when I would see him start to nod off, I knew I was on the right track.
“What Plantasia did for plants, I wanted to do for sleep,” Savage told Soft—Space, when recalling making music that was designed, essentially, to chill the listener out. “I kept asking the recording engineer if he was feeling sleepy, and when I would see him start to nod off, I knew I was on the right track.”
Perhaps it’s a coincidence that on the cover of Savage’s first debut solo album, Thawing Dawn, the artist is depicted reclining on a bed, bathed in melancholic sepia light and holding an acoustic guitar. But then again, maybe not: “I was wearing pajamas at the time [of recording Sleep Gardening], in order to really get into that comfy, sleepy headspace,” Savage explained.
I imagined a garden that grows around us...that one tends to every night in their dreams.
Regarding the name, Sleep Gardening, Savage drew inspiration from a poignant and somewhat unsettling universal truth: we really have very little idea of, or control over, what happens when we’re sleeping. “I imagined a garden that grows around us...that one tends to every night in their dreams,” he explained. “Do gardens grow in our bed? These are the [types of] questions I pondered when creating this piece.”
Regardless, just as Plantasia did in the 70s, Savage’s charming, other-worldly, Moog-heavy track leaves us with a peaceful mix of reassurance and joy. It’s the ideal way to spend 17 minutes and one second before bed, or to keep on hand as a tool for staying cool in many a hot mess.