M. Geddes Gengras – Light Pipe

light pipeI didn’t get much writing done this week. I spent most of it flat on my back, trying without much success to recover from what I’m calling the Thanksgiving flu. That’s an annual October tradition here in Canada during which we all go home, see our families and get sick.

My first commute to work didn’t come until Thursday. In genuinely wobbly fashion, I plugged in my ear buds and headed out for the subway.

The trace amounts of energy I was running on had come entirely from Starbucks. The last thing I wanted was a difficult listen.

By very good fortune, I pressed play on M. Geddes Gengras’ gently listenable Light Pipe. It was precisely what the doctor (I didn’t go see) ordered.

Warm, relaxed and tranquil. This 2 ½ hour epic collection of ambient soundscapes deserves to be received as a major release. Several years in the works, the album’s 10 pieces were inspired by “site-specific performance situations” according to the album’s notes.

“These include a durational performance in Los Angeles at The Getty Center’s Irwin Garden, a special performance alongside the banks of the L.A. river and performances at the El Rey & Regent Theatres.”

Light Pipe is Gengras’ 10th solo effort. His catalogue stretches in multiple directions, including dub, ambient and techno. The scope of this release is more limited than that. But it’s not at all monolithic.

“Chancel” incorporates radio noise and other electronics. “Water Study” rises to a symphony-orchestra-worthy crescendo before gradually receding. “Vulture” is perhaps the double-album’s most complex work. But because it is second to last, listeners will be sufficiently relaxed to take it in stride.

Anyone who has worked on a big project over multiple years understands the frustrations that sometimes entails. Full credit to Gengras for seeing this through. The end product is remarkable.

Kevin Press

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