Album Review - "Particle Movement Theory" by Iterations

A nostalgic trip through sci-fi TV shows of yesteryear, Iterations captures the early '80s soundtrack vibes perfectly....

September 17, 2019

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"Particle Movement Theory" album artwork

A little about Iterations

    Hailing from Washington DC, Iterations (aka Eric Garwood) creates music tinged with retro sounds. He's also one half of the band Velocity 128 (Jonathan Lim being the other half). His musical journey began at the age of 15 as a self-taught alt-rock drummer, eventually drifting to a shoegaze-leaning guitar player (as per Eric, he loves his pedals). After years playing drums in bands and muddling around with improvised songwriting and recording, he largely kept his music to himself. In 2017 his friend and producer Jon Lim invited him to improvise electronic music at a monthly event in Washington DC called "Betamax Video Club", and it was there that Eric was first introduced to the synthwave genre. The two of them perform live at these monthly gigs, playing both their Velocity 128 tracks as well as Eric's Iterations releases. Hardware synths are Eric's obsession, and it doesn't appear he's going back after his newfound passion took hold.

About the album "Particle Movement Theory":  ‌

    "Particle Movement Theory" released digitally on September 17th, 2019. The album is inspired by '80s electronic music and in particular, early '80s sci-fi TV soundtracks (in fact, one show in particular, but you can have fun figuring that one out). All the tracks were written, performed, mixed, and mastered by Iterations himself, including the live drums on "Time of the Hawk" and "The Thunderfighters".

Let's go into an orbit 1000 times more vast than ever and return to check out the nine songs on this album:

"2491" - Orchestral chords start this tune off, and when the main beat kicks in, you can feel the nostalgic sounds from yesteryear. The rhythm, synth notes, and pacing scream early '80s. More than any other song on the album, this is fit for an intro theme to a sci-fi hit show.


Time Of The Hawk - Fast spacey instrumental sounds laid over a nice hard kick and bass drive this song along. I can best describe this is a good chase theme. Simple synths with echoes and reverbs give it a very pure synthwave sound.


Space Crystals - Another driving space melody with a quick pace, this song contains slightly ambient synths dropping in and out over the speedy pace, with cool retro claps dropping in the latter half.


Olympiad - Starting with a longer melody and buildup than prior songs, this track drops into a nice ditty, slightly upbeat with clear notes laced with melodies. It brings to mind the surreal vistas of remote planets and nebulae as we cruise gently across landscapes.


Crichton's Interlude - As the title suggests, this track is shorter than the rest, providing a little break from the soundtrack beats to give us a nice feel of early '80s synthetic sounds and simulated robot vibes. There's still a driving beat here, less urgent than prior songs, yet still paced to enjoy the synth sounds over top. I love the counterpoint melodies in this. The beginning and end fade you in and then out as you travel along to the next half of the album.


Musikworld (Album Version) - Released earlier in the year as a single, this tune features very authentic early synth sounds driving the bass beat and melody. It sounds like the instruments are loaded with effects, giving us a feeling of euphoria, especially when the main phrasing drops in with crystal clear notes before transitioning back to the theme pulsing through the track. The last minute of the song features more layering, driving home the retro sounds that wash over the listener.


The Thunderfighters - A smooth tune, it has gentle synths and an easy beat, still fast paced like many of the tracks on the album (this is paying tribute to sci-fi action shows). The sounds drift over you with ambient bliss.  


Awakening - This track is awash with various synth notes and instruments. Chords and a great drum pattern give me impressions of armadas, space battles, squadrons, and fast cut scenes.


1987 - If this album were the soundtrack to a TV show, then this track is a perfect choice to close out the episode. It's gentle beginning is great for the fade out and then the beats drop, perfect for the rolling credits. This tune has that "montage" feel, fast paced like many of the songs on the album, yet ethereal at the same time.


    This album from Iterations oozes retro synth soundtrack vibes. At first I was thinking of shows like Streethawk or Airwolf, like a few of the other albums I've reviewed recently, but there is definitely a space oriented theme here. Other artists like Glenn Main also pay tribute to these sounds from days gone by, and I love it. This release would fit perfectly with any sci-fi oriented video game or TV show today, considering the new fascination with retro sounds throughout our current media culture. A solid release from Iterations, this nostalgic trip has made me fire up some old TV shows for marathon binge-watching over the next few weekends. If you haven't guessed by now what the main influence and tribute is throughout this album, I'll give you a hint: Think TV crushes, Coleco Adam computer games, and producers of shows like Knight Rider and Battlestar Galactica

Iterations embracing the aesthetic - Photo Credit Alex Saify

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Julian Green

Published September 17, 2019

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