Release Date: Jun 24, 2014
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
Whether or not time is circular, both life and matter move in cycles. Some have short periods; you breathe, blink your eyes, drink water, acquire food. They interact with longer cycles, infusing these biological needs with social obligations, desire and fulfillment. Behind them are political, economic, social cycles: the wax and wane of political systems, freedom and bondage, wealth and equality, artistic and philosophical dialectics, the conquest of space and its return to nature.
Review Summary: Synthetic worldbuilding. The analog synthesizer has become somewhat of a symbolic ideal for the a lot of the music being produced this side of the millennium. This generation of mostly college age musicians, children of the post-modern automaton known as the internet with an infatuation for all things retro now that an index of what amounts to the entirety of human knowledge and history is available at their fingertips, have been furiously engorging themselves on a lost world of music obscured by rudimentary and suffocating pathways of communication and information sharing.
It’s great to have a shortcut to inner calm, and M. Geddes Gengras' latest release, Ishi, possesses that functionality. The experimental artist's new LP comes off of the two avant-reggae albums he recorded with Sun Araw and Jamaican legends the Congos, as well as last year’s Collected Works Vol. 1 The Moog Years, a collection of compositions for modular synthesizer that existed somewhere in between John Carpenter’s creepiest film scores and the more electronics-based parts of last year’s compilation I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990.
Electronic artist M. Geddes Gengras accompanied Sun Araw and reggae greats the Congos on 2012's noise/dub culture clash Icon Give Thank and explored jumpy modular synthesizer patches the same year on his own Test Leads album. Ishi takes Gengras' synth ruminations in an entirely different direction, abandoning the sunny and anxious sounds of his work just preceding it for spacious, cold, and alien soundscapes of sprawling ambient meditations.
Sonically, M. Geddes Gengras is something of a chameleon. Together with his brother Cyrus, he formed Antique Brothers to unleash a handful of folky avant-garde recordings in the spirit of what The Wire magazine was calling New Weird America. His music became even more expansive when he eventually started out on his own, culminating in last year's Collected Works Volume 1: The Moog Years.