M. Geddes Gengras - Expressed, I Noticed Silence Music Album Reviews

M. Geddes Gengras - Expressed, I Noticed Silence Music Album Reviews
This is a relatively low-key offering, compared to the prolific synth musician’s psychedelic standards, but it still abounds with a wealth of crunchy textures and trippy atmospheres.

A whiff of incense, if not something skunkier, seems to emanate from every piece of music M. Geddes Gengras makes. The prolific synth artist came up as a collaborator of acts like Sun Araw, Pocahaunted, and Robedoor, then spent 11 years amassing a vast solo discography that touches on everything from heady dub to shimmering drone. After spending a good chunk of his career living in Los Angeles, he recently relocated to the upstate town of Hudson, New York. The comparatively low-key vibes of Gengras’ new home are palpable on his latest album, Expressed, I Noticed Silence, but Gengras’ music still abounds with a wealth of crunchy textures and trippy atmospheres.

A tie-dyed sensibility consistently attaches itself to Gengras’ sound, but the colors of his metaphorical splotches change considerably with each record. If the hues of 2020’s Time Makes Nothing Happen seemed to be applied in murky purple and green ink, Expressed, I Noticed Silence’s palette is much crisper. As a whole, the album dwells in the space between blissed-out new age and an especially celestial strain of krautrock. On opener “Discovered Endstate Always,” Gengras embraces a few simple chords, peppering in some soggy pseudo-woodwinds and electric-guitar flourishes to keep things diverse. “The Harmony and Also I Became Square Movement” features minimal fluorescent leads that peek out from behind overcast yet angelic pads. Meanwhile, on “Give as Proportion,” FM synth melodies and pristine arpeggios are underlined by phased-out washes of sound and subtle, bendy string work.

The list of instrumental tones Gengras has employed over the course of his career is robust and not without its share of oddities, from dissonant modular synthesizers to warbled samples of bagpipes. His brother Cyrus (who has played with Jessica Pratt, Kevin Morby, and Amen Dunes) contributes guitar and bass, but otherwise, the inventory of gear used to bring this one to life is surprisingly concise: just a Moog Sub Phatty, Elektron drum machine, and a few modular gizmos. You can hear the effect of Gengras’ tightly contained rig in the music’s stripped-back qualities. It’s especially apparent on chilly closer “Deadly, Holy, Rough,” which is carried by eerie clacking noises and the esoteric twinkle of cascading metal. The album’s arrangements are more compact than many of those on previous records, but he still managed to keep things otherworldly when laying the album to tape.

Gengras’ cuts tend to be pretty long—Light Pipe, from 2018, stretches its 10 tracks across nearly two and a half hours—which makes Expressed, I Noticed Silence’s brevity unusual. The most drawn-out piece, “A Rhythmic Stillness as Root Had I,” barely exceeds the seven-minute mark. The fact that someone could comfortably digest the entirety of this 38-minute release in a single sitting is a welcome change of pace, and one that keeps this among his most approachable records. Expressed, I Noticed Silence might not be Gengras’ most puzzling or formidable album. But these polished soundscapes make a good place to start exploring the treasures in his daunting catalog.

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M. Geddes Gengras - Expressed, I Noticed Silence Music Album Reviews M. Geddes Gengras - Expressed, I Noticed Silence Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, July 29, 2022 Rating: 5

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