- Journey through the secret life of plants
Times have passed with this blog and a quite big amount of posts have been released during the few years. To celebrate the record post number 100 I’ll bring up the very first bboy related album I have ever bought. Or at least this was the first one strictly intended only for playing for bboys back in the late 1990s.
As a soundtrack score to a document about plants, Journey through the secret life of plants is exactly what you think it would be. Mostly ambient sounds mixed with occasional melodies and strange vocals, almost if it was a new age recording. It was originally made only for the documentary film, but later Motown decided to release the score as a new Stevie Wonder album. It was supposed to be kind of a sequel album to much praised Songs in the key of life. I guess fans back then were as confused as I am still about this album, it’s so different from the previous material what we used to hear from Wonder. Journey through the secret life of plants was by the way the first album where digital sampling synthesizer, Computer Music Melodian, was used.
Wonder created the film score through a complex process of collaboration. The film’s producer, Michael Braun, described each visual image in detail, while the sound engineer, Gary Olzabal, specified the length of a passage. This information was processed to a four-track tape (with the film’s sound on one of the tracks), leaving Wonder space to add his own musical accompaniment. The result is an underscore that, at times, closely mimics the visual images on the screen.
Among the subtle ambience of the underscore tracks can however be found a true gem. The first track on side d, “A seed’s a star / tree medley”, is one of the best of these so called less known Stevie tracks. It easily moves people on dancefloors everywhere with it’s hypnotic uptempo groove. I think I’ll never get bored to this song. From the background chanting at the end you can hear repeatedly the name of another interesting track on this album, “Kesse ye lolo de ye”. It’s a track with raw drumming with several different percussions, kora melodies and chanting. Not typical Stevie at all. And that’s not all. Downtempo dramatic “Power flower” is also quite a good track and the hypnotic eight minute uptempo disco track “Race babbling” is the last one the mention. The rest of the album is that documentary score type of strange music with titles like “Earth’s creation”, “The first garden”, “Venus’ flytrap and the bug”, “Black orchid”, “Ecclesiastes” and so on. This album is quite common and really undervalued musically in general. Every home should have a copy of it…
Kesse ye lolo de ye
A seed’s a star / tree medley