So I've always liked Mr. Gengras's stuff, and his side on the split with AM Shiner at the end of last year was pretty damn slammin' but this right here, this Pink Trails/Deep Moon Time, his expansive new double cassette on Stunned, is some serious fucking business I was not prepared for.
MGG rips the first tape hard unleashing some Yellow Swans-ish zen-through-grime action. Initially hitting your ears with a manipulated tape of hand drums, Gengras lies you down in a coffin in no time and starts shoveling on dank fuzz and synth. This first side is really incredible, so gnarly and throbbing but still so beautifully melodic. A layer of snowy feedback is caked on everything. Some deep sub-bass synth lurches and grinds making be think maybe there really is that underground volcano ready to swallow up LA. Powerful and heavy as hell yet scrappy and detailed too. It's a fighter without a weak point. More and more elements surface Gengras eventually singing something but there's no way to tell for sure what, or even guess, due to the racket. Seriously brilliant piece. The second section of the side manages to come off as even more unstable with speaker cabinets buckling under their power and shriveling up against weird taped clatter. Raging feedback and a lilting melody hit back simultaneously. Going all rock tumbler on us, he's grinding down grit to gleaming gems. Then, Gengras, whips out some tabla amidst the noise and a Moog with the one-way ticket to hell. And we coast out on some raucous hand drum action. So Side 1 down, mind blown. 3 to go.
The second side opens up with the same tabla as feedback begins to work its way back under your fingernails coloring them a grody brown. MGG tries to keep your mind clean with a fantastic, soaring synth melody buried under the gunk. Subterranean tremors start crumbling the interior of this here temple Gengras has built and all the ghosts and ghouls are set free. The voices join for a decayed symphony as the damned march to the gallows, while Mr. MGG is over there in the corner just fuckin' one-finger jammin' on his Korg. He then pulls out the Sun Ra chops he's been hiding, molesting the keyboard and wringing out a devilish extended solo. The synthesizer dies off ever so slowly, bedded in rattles, clangs and rumbling, speaker-ripping bouts of feedback leading to a lonesome melody coming from either a guitar or a keyboard (I can't tell!) At that point, the side seems to launch into a new section with polyphonic organ tones and a random instrument being strummed to death. Before long the competing melodies begin tear each other limb from limb. Gengras beckons you to experience the aural cannibalism.
It's a nasty mess and this is worth picking up for the first tape alone. I know usually save this for the end of the review, but fuck it, Recommended.
The second tape Deep Moon Time finds Gengras taking it easy for all us sinners. Gone are the feedback doused arrangements and putrid audio infections. Beginning with two dueling clean-toned synth melodies, the piece is immediately more relaxing than the previous half hour. However, MGG hasn't lost his edge, massive sub-bass swells push their way in turning the piece into a thoroughly ominous affair. It's now just a matter of time to see what evil thing will happen. The section segues into a new set of sustained tones, really the first place the tape goes a little drone. From there Gengras constructs melodies out of the ether. Slowly but surely he molds the melodies, eventually whipping them into an improvised synth solo. Gengras just keeps riffing away, against the foggy bass, until the piece drifts away.
The final side continues the vibe of dense, packed bass and single note melodies. An echoing melodic figure treads water before being swept away by the current of other swelling tones. Literally unstable bass rumbles turn up nearly shaking the piece off its hinges. The crashes get louder and sharper moving at a relentless, metered pace for a while before sputtering out. The next piece hits instantly with tangled, thicker-than-usual melodies. And when MGG pulls out the late 70s film score synth lines, man oh man, it's too much. It's a beautiful polyphony that's way too short. The next track attacks you with the sharpest, most brittle synth tone west of the Mississippi. A saturated bass throb hits hard and heavy and we appear to be moving full circle back into the grime of the album's beginning. Cycling on two-note bass waves, a melody cuts its path puncturing the monolith with quick stabs, gradually tearing it away to reveal a beautiful, shining chorus from heaven underneath. This is an epic, epic event.
Gengras has found a luscious and muggy middle ground between analog synth composition and the improvised noise sphere and I can't get enough. Headphones are a must!
Chock another "one of the best of year!"s on the Stunned Records 2010 scoreboard. What are they at now 6 or 7? Great artwork, chunky "butterfly" 2xCS case, seriously massive tunes. There's no reason not to snatch it up except, well, it's almost sold-out so hurry.