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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #277
Ipecac Music
David Gunn

The Ipecac Indians, who once called all of Oregon home -- or rather their word for home, which was perruque -- now are relegated to a small reservation in the northwesternmost corner of the state inside Fort Stevens State Park. There is a striking dichotomy between old and young tribespersons: the former live in primitive, turn-of-the-century double-wides and stubbornly eke out a subsistent existence making hand-woven wall-to-wall carpets for Ikea, Home Depot and the Native Americana Division of Briggs & Stratton; the latter, many with advanced degrees in otorhinolaryngoplasty, earn incomes in the six figurines by brokering lucrative real estate agreements for theoretical New York ointment houses, and regally reside in cable-ready high-rise faux teepee condovelopments with panoramic views of Pacific Ocean plankton. On the leeward side of the reservation looms Mount Mombaka, a volcano that was dormant the way the Marquis de Sade was Godzilla's haberdasher -- which is to say, inadvertently. In the mountain's verdant caldera lies a technologically state-of-the-art arts compound which the Ipecacs lease to PaNSoME, the Pacific Northwest School of Musical Experimentation. The reservation also features a casino, a Big Bang Theory theme park and, nestled in a geologically active pasture between the two, a field of festering fumaroles -- parallelogram- shaped holes in the ground from which sizzling volcanic gases escape. The indians had long been attracted to these earthly vents because pressurized gas leaking from subterranean fissures produced a cacophony of geothermal eructations, honks, burbles, whistles and wheezes that best eponymized their tribal name: ipecac music.

On September 9, 1968, a Folkways recording engineer on holiday in the park happened upon the indians scrupulously replicating the sounds utilizing only their voices processed through a vocoder. Instinctively, he whipped out his Wollensak 500, the one with the built-in condenser microphone, and committed the "music" to Shamrock tape. The resultant live album, "Pica Ice Scum" (a thinly veiled anagram of ipecac music), briefly popularized both the music and the indians. A tribal band appeared on Hullabaloo and at the 1969 Peach Bowl half-time ceremony. But when, two weeks after the legendary Woodstock festival, they played an outdoor concert in what was until the first of this month Nestucca Spit State Park but which -- thanks to Oregon State Administrative Order No. PRD 9-2000/736-018-0045, Chapter 736 (and of course you can look it up) -- has since been renamed for a minor government official with ties to large pools of submissively soft campaign funds, an irate crowd expecting the headlining band Vanilla Fudge stormed the stage and chased the indians and their wheezy music out of the public ear, nose and throat. But now, 30 years after the novelty had worn off, PanSoME was eager to bring up the sounds of ipecac again.

Alas, it was not to be. According to the report filed by the Western Oregon Emergency Management Unit, when music school experimenters successfully reproduced ipecac music in the laboratory, they inadvertently destabilized a temperamental geothermal fissure beneath them, and the field of fumaroles collapsed into one gigantic lava pit, taking most of the school grounds with it. Fortunately, it was a delayed-reaction event, allowing everybody, save for a crotchety old professor whom nobody liked, to escape to safety.

While the response from the older indians was one of "I told you so," the younger, more worldly tribespersons were more sympathetic. Not only did they offer their condolences -- which, with $1.25, could fetch a small autoclave of decaffeinated coffee -- they also granted the music school the land on which the compound had stood as a memorial. This conveyance of property allowed the Ipecacs, for tax purposes, to become the 21st century's first Oregon donor.

Donation plays a big part in this 277th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, as we are prepared to convey to you, our listening audients, a second installment of microtonally squawky bassoon music absolutely free of charge. Equally free of charge, though not without certain hidden costs to be incurred later, are the following preparative words from Kalvos.