06 July 2015
M. Geddes Gengras - "3 Impressions"
There used to be a really cool marketing technique in the 60's and 70's where music companies would put out records to display the features of their products, called Demonstration Records. You can find stuff from Maestro, Yamaha, and even the legendary electronics's company Moog Music did this quite a bit back when it was a popular tactic. If you go to a record store, ask if they have an "oddball" or "genreless" section; there's a fair chance there will be a few records demonstrating the power of the early Moog Synthesizers. Some records, like Dick Hyman's MOOG: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman and Wendy Carlos' Switched On Bach, are less of advertisements, but actual albums that demonstrate the instruments. These records are honestly really entertaining to listen to. Now however, in the days of gear demo videos on YouTube, this fun way of marketing has gone by the way side. But thanks to Moog and synth master M. Geddes Gengras, we have his 3 Impressions EP, a free EP made entirely with Moog gear. I think Gengras is one of the more talented synth artists working today, and I really love hearing him working with more ambient sounds. While usually focusing more on modular synthesis, the Moog devices seem to be fantastic creative tools for him on this EP, and it's really a joy to listen to.
On "I", the first thing we hear is a massive filtered synth bass note, which turns into the main melody as more and more layers of gooey synth introduce themselves underneath. It's an 8-minute ambient trip with a lot of incredible textures, each one being thicker and more filtered than the last. It's really a beautiful scape of sound that Gengras creates. "II" starts with a very slow but emotive bass sound, then these popping synth filters introduce themselves, creating some really fascinating textures that sound like something between a demented pan flute and rain drops. I'm assuming Gengras is using the patterns of the MIDI Murf for that, and it's a unique and creative sound for sure. Like the first track, "II" is a very full and rich synth track that is lovely on the ears, and is constantly developing and changing. Speaking of the MIDI Murf, the first sound we hear on "III" is a stereo tracked synth zapping back and forth between both ears, creating one of the most interesting effects I've heard in a while. This 12 minute monster is probably the one that develops the most as it goes. The sounds on this track are particularly well arranged. I like how the time and tempo seems to change at random, and there's a very tight but subtle bass sound that is always keeping things together in the background. The beats coming from the MIDI Murf sound absolutely fantastic as well. Like the other tracks, the synth textures sound sound really incredible, and I love the progression on this track in particular.
For a beginner to M. Geddes' electronic pieces, I think this is a great starting point. Not only are the ambient sounds pretty accessible, they're really quite beautiful as well. I really would recommend checking this one out. While I do realize that ultimately this EP is just an advertisement for Moog products, similar to The Lego Movie, it's the best and most creative commercial I've ever seen (or heard, in this case).