Iatrogenics – Various artists and an overwhelming optimism. (music review)
… and thanks to fantabulous internet land, I recently received this email:
This is a wonderful little disc that I’ve had for a long time – a 1984 gathering of the Electronic music club of Edmonds Community college – folk who love electronic music and came together specifically for the creation of this album.
Iatrogenic means of or relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment. Don’t ask me what the significance of the name is. I’ve done a pretty decent search on the net and my diggings have produced nothing. If anyone knows much about this album (or better if you appear on it) send me an email and I’ll add your thoughts to the post.
Doug Jorgeson features three times on the album. He gives us the opening track, ‘The Primordial Past’, a series of holy swirls and trad 1960’s style sci-fi electronics as an electronic voice-over preaches about the lost layers of sound and the neglect of different styles of music through time. It’s an almost spiritual beginning to an album that combines many different styles of electronica. Jorgeson’s next 2 tracks, ‘Mixed emotions’ and ‘making cookies’ are light playful sounds, keeping fairly true to the spirit of a traditional electronica. James Gallant picks up the mood on ‘A.C. Overload’ with a dance track that carries elements of euro folk in its playfulness.
Richard Perkins changes the tune completely by track three with ‘Video 1’, a track I liked a lot. He layers what sounds like radio but is probably video programming to produce a garbled whirlwind of noise, that has surprising internal patterns. Words collapse into other voice overs using segue-esque sounds or tones or even words at times. I can only assume this track took hours and hours to record. Eventually it will collapse into static with a deep microphoned voice laughing and then saying “I’ve got you now.” Its true! he got me!
Mark Hale will lighten the load again with the reggae infused N.R.E, a very stylish little track exploring the crossover possibilities of electronica. Nathan McCoy’s ‘Intrinique’ (another favourite of mine) is a solemn drone style strum of a beat that flutters its way into a full on beat fest that then moves into a neat little 1980’s simple melody. There’s all the drama of swelling transitioning into an almost proggish morse-code of a tune. This track is simple in its execution but combines lots of nice electronica ideas. It’s cool to see them all in the one track, blending so seamlessly.
Victoria Hendricks spins up into ‘Elevator of Love’ and prevents the album from being a total sausage fest. ‘Elevator of Love’ combines a saucy little tune with a nice verse mix “sung” by an electronic voice so distorted we can’t make out the words. Another favourite of mine from the album. Scott Knol entices with ‘Alien Attack’ that pretty much sounds just as you would expect with lots of sliding synth and that eerie windy background that morphs so nicely into the slippery tones that electronica does so well. The last artists to cover on the album is Mark Vercoe’s ‘On the Beach’, an ambient bird song infused track that rests and nuzzles its way into the psyche.
These tracks don’t necessarily represent any great ability (though I would suggest ‘Video 1’ might be an exception) but they do represent a broad feel for what electronica can do. For some reason, possibly because of the nature of the project itself, the tracks all work together seamlessly despite their difference and the end product is a profoundly upbeat experience. It’s an album that I go back to a lot, because of its cheer and its overt, unselfconscious optimism.
All music was composed, recorded and edited in the Electronic Music Studios at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington.
From the back cover: “The Electronic Music Club of Edmonds Community College became a chartered club on our campus in April of 1984. With 30 initial members, the focus of the club was centered around the production of this album.
The philosophy of this organization is to encourage and perpetuate the creation and performance of Electronic Music. We hope you enjoy this album.
The Electronic Music Program at Edmonds Community College is rapidly becoming one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in the United States. Eight courses in both subtractive and additive synthesis as well as private study are offered to help students develop and improve their skills on analogue and digital instruments as well as multitrack tape and computer disk recording.”
And here is the play list:
Douglas Jorgeson – The Primordial Past 2:53
A2 James V. Gallant – A. C. Overload 3:27
A3 Richard Perkins – Video I 2:41
A4 Mark Hale (2) – N. R. E. 1:51
A5 Douglas Jorgeson – Mixed Emotions 3:20
A6 Nathan McCoy (2) – Intrinsique 4:18
B1 Victoria Hendricks – Elevator Of Love 4:20
B2 Scott Knol – Alien Attack Part 1 3:10
B3 Mark Vercoe – On The Beach 2:09
B4 Douglas Jorgeson – Making Cookies 4:06