Boomkat Product Review:
Described as "cosmic Americana", this collection of 1980s home studio recordings from Californian DIY psych/ethno enthusiast Jon Iverson is a mind-expanding delight, linking Vangelis and Ash Ra Tempel with John Fahey and Popol Vuh.
Many World Interpretation isn't just a simple reissue, it's a collection of material from Jon Iverson's home studio archive that reinterprets material from his 1984 collaborative album "First Collection", augmenting it with formerly incomplete archival compositions. In the late 1970s, Iverson was at college in California, and was roommates with Weird Al Yankovic. Iverson had been playing guitar for years, and had accumulated enough money from a summer job to buy himself a 4-track reel-to-reel tape machine and a condenser microphone, equipment he and Weird Al would use to record demos that would lead to a long and fruitful career. But pop music parodies weren't Iverson's true calling, he was fascinated by the experimental electronic music coming from Europe at the time (Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre, for example), and managed to acquire a Minimoog and a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer. The small studio he put together with all this gear is pictured on the cover of "Many Worlds Interpretation", which he recorded between 1982 and 1989, using an Apple-II computer and an early computer sampler.
"I knew this music wasn't commercial, but didn't care," Iverson admits now. Listening back, it's easy to hear how his influences blossomed into music that's unmistakably American, but still informed by Sky Records and Popol Vuh. The previously released material was made in collaboration with mandolin player Thomas Walters (he appears on 'Fox Tales', 'Naningo' and 'River Fen'), while the rest of the tracks were only finished recently. And while the mood is different on these tracks from the other pieces, it completes a handy picture of Iverson's musical world at the time. These moments juxtapose both musicians' careful playing with then-complicated electronic processes that weren't familiar to many DIY musicians - this was a time long before there were easy tutorials accessible anywhere, anytime. The music Iverson managed to come up with sounds not just like a fusion of his influences but an expression of hope when anything seemed possible. Just check 'Naningo', that blends fourth world-style percussion with Berlin school synthesizer slushiness decades before Emeralds bust out of Cleveland.
'Nyx and the Night Owl' is more windswept and proggy, balancing Ray Manzarek-style organ with echoing slide guitar, while 'Sands of Tycho' sounds like a US answer to Popol Vuh's devotional ritual grooves. Instead of calling out to Medieval Europe and beyond, the track is bonded to the arid West Coast deserts, with rattlesnake percussion and twanging Laurel Canyon shimmers alongside woozy modal synth.