M Geddes Gengras – Collected Works Vol.1: The Moog Years (Umor Rex)

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M Geddes Gengras

Over the last seven years, electronic producer and obscure synth collector M Geddes Gengras has pretty much become one of the pivotal points in the Los Angeles experimental / art music scene, with a prolific output that’s seen him collaborate with LA Vampires, Pocahaunted, Sun Araw, and more recently reggae legends The Congos (on last year’s excellent ‘Icon Give Thank’ album). While he’s certainly the bearer of an extensive backcatalogue, to date much of his output has been restricted to ultra-limited cassette releases. Luckily, that’s where this debut compilation steps in, compiling a series of tracks taken from the period 2008-2011 featuring him improvising on his Moog Rogue and MG-1 synths that have previously only seen cassette release. Given the shared instrumental palette, there’s a very cohesive and enveloping feel to the six tracks collected here, with the 13 minute long track ‘10.17.2009’ almost easing the listener into a sonic bath of swelling synth tones that recalls early New Age as much as it does a blissful slant on Tangerine Dream’s early seventies sonic drift.

While there’s a waft and sweep to the droning harmonics that almost recalls string orchestration, the subtle use of delay results in an eerie and ‘unreal’ feel that also hints at underlying melancholy and darkness, particularly as the very edges of the harmonic tones begin to slightly drift out of tune at points into a mass of squeals and dubbed-out howls. Elsewhere, ‘Resistor’ almost recalls a Michael Brook soundscape, with delicately ringing harmonics that you’d swear were delay-treated guitars gliding against an airy yet pensive backdrop of bass swells and soft-focus synths, the sense of uncertain calm becoming disrupted by the arrival of harsh atonal tones and high frequency squeals, before ‘Untitled #4′ makes the sense of menace more explicit as crashing walls of sound echo against teasing swirls of melodic synth tones. A consistently interesting collection that manages to balance its minimalist approach with a vast, enveloping feel whilst also providing a worthy intro to Gengras’ music for a wider audience.

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A dastardly man with too much music and too little time on his hands