Beta Vulgaris is a composite experiment into horticultural acoustics. Based on a series of readings about the beneficial role of sound to the life, growth and well-being of plants, the album sets to document an experiment Vélez conducted in his own studio. Aiming to stimulate the growth of beet plants, Vélez started using sinewaves for a period of three months. The results, as he writes, were the cultivation of beets that were “healthy, exuberant and exquisite.”
In its totality, “Beta Vulgaris” is offering a meditative series of five compositions based on sinusoidal waves and micro-sounds of cooking and preparation of beets. Vélez’s work has always been focused on the sympraxis of sound, communal engagement, and the environment. “Beta Vulgaris” is an invitation to conduct the same experiment in our own enviroments and to use our own plants as collaborators and co-creators in the experience. Similarly to Amacher’s own fascination with aural architecture, Vélez’s aural horticulture seeks to inhabit our own space and body in order to create resonances, symmetries and openings.
In the text that accompanies the release, Vélez cites the work of biologist Edward O. Wilson on “the attraction of humans to plants, and other non-human organisms”, by placing the emphasis on collaboration and co-authorship. In fact, the work itself cannot be fully experienced unless we embrace the detailed “thinking by doing” texture it has. Perhaps we could play the album to our plants for a long period of time, for a few minutes each time and observe how it supports their growth. It is an album that at least offers us that possibility to experiment in praxis if we want, to think about what we listen by doing the experiment in collaboration with our own plants, be it beets or other species. In that sense,
“Beta Vulgaris” is not a work about the growth of beets but a methodology for becoming more attuned to plant life, of growing closer to our environment and its/our communal well-being. (Maria Papadomanolaki)