M. Geddes Gengras has inhabited the Los Angeles experimental music scene for the last 7 years, bouncing through various bands, monikers, and a critically acclaimed collaboration with Sun Araw and The Congos. The producer perhaps shines most brightly, however, when left to his own bespoke devices. His solo work is largely based in modular synthesis, comfortably straddling a variety of forms while remaining rooted in a deep affinity for the limitations of analog electronics and a keen ear for timbral manipulation.
“Ishi" finds the producer diving headlong into beautiful, sprawling ambient explorations and deep, mystical drone. Its title is the name given to “the last wild Indian” in North America, who emerged in 1911 at the age of 49. Hidden all his life in the wilderness of northern California, Ishi spent most of his life completely unexposed to the modern world lurking just beyond his own timeless reality. His only exposure to the “civilized” world came from Gold Rush settlers, whom he watched massacre and disease each and every member of his family and tribe, until he alone remained. When he was found, communication between the miraculous survivor and this strange new world was understandably difficult and frightening— but the knowledge gained through the process proved invaluable.
Sometimes the most effective and direct means of communication and understanding exist outside of human language. Gengras’ highly expressive instrumental record reveals itself via sweeping tonal gestures and striking, intensely colorful washes of heavily processed electronic sound. “Ambient” is insufficient to describe the uniquely evocative soundtrack presented here, a lushly nuanced sound world generated directly from the deeply personal relationship between one man and his meticulously cultivated machines.
“The record is about the schism that exists between the world we live in and those stuck on the margins of it— perpetual outsiders and their quest to understand the torrent of information they are constantly subjected to. I was directly inspired to these pieces by two people in my orbit who died this year, one accidentally and one not, both of whom suffered this affliction and eventually lost their lives to it. The music was a reaction to these losses and a sort of offering of something peaceful but at the same time respectful of the conflict and dissonance of life, with movement always in the distance. I look at it as music for passage between different realms, conscious & un, this world & another, layers of reality… ISHI is a metaphor for that— the man who walks into our world understanding none of it but forced to live in it regardless. This is somewhere in between a prayer and a lullaby for him and for the rest of them, but also something for those of us left behind.” - M. Geddes Gengras
M. Geddes Gengras - Ishi (Leaving Records LR040)