Music Distributors Just Banned an Ambient Record That Was Made Using Weed Plants
This record was banned for “explicit content.” And that's how you know prohibition is still alive and well, folks!
Published on April 26, 2022

A musician made an ambient record using electrical impulses from live cannabis plants, but distributors have censored this chilled-out instrumental music for its “explicit content.”

To celebrate last week's 4/20 cannabis holiday, musician Joe Patitucci released an album called “420hz: Plant Music from Cannabis Plants.” Patitucci created the music using a PlantWave, a device that translates electrical impulses from living plants into notes or other musical information that can be sent to a laptop or synthesizer. In this case, the device was connected to a live cannabis plant growing at a legal California weed farm. 

“These recordings were done by translating real-time data from a cannabis plant into 420hz music using a PlantWave,” Patitucci explained, according to CDM. “All notes on every instrument were generated by translating the wave from a plant into pitch. There is nothing pre-recorded. This was created live, on the fly, with slight manipulation of the textural qualities of the lead instrument done by me in response to what I was hearing from the plant.”

Just like animals, plants generate constant electrical impulses, which change depending on light and weather conditions, the presence of other plants or animals, or injury to the plant itself. Mushrooms and other fungi also generate similar electrical impulses, which some scientists believe may be used as a form of communication.

Enterprising artists have recently gotten into the idea of using these electrical signals to create music, and plant-based music is quietly becoming its own microgenre. There are now hundreds of videos of musicians hooking up plants or mushrooms to their synths on YouTube and TikTok, and whole albums of plant music are also sprouting up on streaming services.

So, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to make a record with cannabis plants, and Patitucci, who was already making plant music, stepped up to fill that void. Of course, the album was set for release on 4/20, but Tunecore – a distribution service that allows musicians to place their records on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services – apparently decided that the album was too controversial to release.

“The album is currently being held by Tunecore for its “explicit” nature even though there are no references to drug use, violence, etc,” Patitucci explained to CDM. Most likely, the album was automatically rejected by Tunecore's app just because it included “cannabis” in the title, and the company may well approve it for streaming once a human being actually checks the record for its so-called “explicit content.”

But even if the album is eventually approved, the rejection clearly indicates that tech companies' stigma against cannabis remains in full effect. Social media companies like Instagram and its parent company Facebook have shut down and “shadow-banned” accounts of cannabis users, legal weed businesses, and even government cannabis regulatory agencies. Some video game companies have even banned users for using cannabis-related usernames, but Twitch has at least approved pot-themed handles.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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