For some, an album is just a collection of new material that gets grouped together after a period of creativity. A collection of new things that were made around the same time, with the same folk, set up, location or vibe. Perhaps with a bit of editing – what’s ended on the tape or hard drive forms a perfectly engaging and cohesive passage of sound – the new album!
Another approach is that the album is seen as an overall structure where it follows some form of conceptual map or narrative. The music is in effect, referencing some external structure that the listener may or may not be aware of. This might not even be important to enjoying the music, or understanding the ‘why’. It may well be the reasons why certain things happen in a certain way.
M. Geddes Gengras latest work I Am The Last Of That Green And Warm-hued World fits spectacularly into the latter category. It’s a strong undercurrent in much of his recent work that these long-form albums all zone in on a form of séance with the other, built from ether rather than ambience. Ishi was like a crystallised new age homage to the last of the Yahi tribe. Interior Architecture was a cluttered slow unravelling of a huge imaginary building. And last year’s planet sized Light Pipe dealt with the notion of inside and outside in all its manifestations. As always, the projects are produced via a brain tickling modulator synth set up…
So, it’s with a touch of sadness and a sense of the infinite that this new work grew out of Gengras having a dream about his recent departed father Mark. In his dream, his dad suggests his son reads Stephen King’s novel – Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. The resulting album, an 80-minute long gift, is a sound tracked world to that very book…
Whilst I was previously unaware of the book at all, a quick search reveals a tale of a wild west parallel world, ambiguously in the past and future and tells the story of a character’s journey towards the black tower. The peculiarities and significances of this weird world quickly give some sense of the titles of these 5 extended pieces. I can only imagine for anyone that loves Gengras work and The Dark Tower series of books, this will be some form of nirvana. But the dazzling twists and turns within these pieces are in no way derailed for the many that, I guess, know next to nothing about the book as Gengras is on truly blistering sonic form throughout.
With even the tiniest mental framework in place, it’s easy to see the opening Zoltan (who is the main characters pet raven) as a sense of this huge weirdly twinkling landscape. Passing traffic or fractalized water ripples as the illusionary realm solidifies. Strangely the music has a glass like quality that sits on the same perch as Peter Gabriel’s Power House At The Foot Of The Mountain from the equally avian themed Birdy soundtrack. Zoltan’s opening 15-minutes soars your brain straight into this weirdly magical world.
The Pump At The Way Station has more of that somehow expected arid quality. Dusty scrubland and seemingly the discovery of a pump. What the pump is or does isn’t clear to me but the whole track feels like a slow spiralling of energy around an altar of sorts. A monolith emerging from shifting layers of drifting hallucination like a block of neon oddness beaming into shimmery night air.
Given the scene setting, Cellar/Oracle is that dark tense moment of connection drawn out the inky black nothingness. The black isn’t empty space, rather it’s a convergence made of something that’s simply solid black. Sound bounces back and forward like a form of techno made by bats…
Perhaps the most stunning section of the entire album happens as the atoms align in the weird subterranean void of Passage Under The Mountains. Huge dub fragments and sun-baked tinder crackles eventually find water before organising themselves into a stupendous thumping endless groove.
It’s clear, almost an hour into this superbly psychedelic album, like the moment of its creation, this is dream music, not sleep music. This is music that is reaching out into the countless sheets of human connection. A huge shifting heaving multi-dimensional, technically constructed monument to the simplicity of existence.
I Am The Last Of That Green And Warm-hued World ends with the 22 minute long comforting glow of The Drawing, a near static drift that slowly points skyward as it amasses a choir like form before seeping into mist and water droplets…
As the album returns you to silence it’s apparent that it forms a very personal and unique form of grief, tribute and also that of forming new connections. The strange backstory is offered up as the vehicle for a new and stunning sonic journey. Gengras could have simply called this New Works: Part 1 to 5 and it would have been another bristling entry in his ever-growing canon of work.
Ultimately, the observation is that whilst the back story gives this new work a frame, the music taken on its own is mesmerisingly good. We have a stunningly rich collection of 5 new pieces of music that just happens to one of the best albums of psychedelic electronica I’ve been lucky enough to hear.
Exceptionally high-quality oddness threaded with creativity, warmth, love and endless ribbons of dense deeply kosmic sounds. It’s absolutely remarkable.
I Am The Last Of That Green And Warm-hued World
is out 17th May on Hausu Mountain. Available to pre-order on MC and DL HERE