As Personable, Los Angeles modular synth extraordinaire M. Geddes Gengras is always just a couple steps ahead of everyone else. Following a string of solo releases on a number of quality labels (Digitalis, Ruralfaune, SicSic, etc) and his collaborative travelogue with Sun Araw to meet The Congos on RVNG Intl., Spontaneous Generationcontinues the captivating sonic explorations chartered by Gengras and his army of machines. Yet Gengras’ work as Personable has been somewhat sparse, consisting of the discordant beauty of the Human Disco tape on Jeff Witscher’s Agents of Chaos and this year’s Alternate/Other tape on Opal (that I know of). This LP, the second on the fantastic Peak Oil upstart, comes as the next chapter in the project’s arc and a captivating display of modular synth work.
The eponymous track dominates the entire first-half of the LP as an obliterating scenic route to alien territory. “Spontaneous Generation” is an epic affair that surpasses Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom’s spaced-out modular-synth marathons. Gengras opts for aggressive tempo and propulsive effects, immediately jumping into the action rather than allowing gradual build. That’s not to say the action peaks at the start though, but the arc seems to have been edited down from hours of experimentation to the high-grade, 20-minute suite here. Waves of synthetic sound ebb and flow with kaleidoscopic melody and precise, minimal techno. The line between channeled improvisation and precise arrangement is destroyed, leaving the ambiguous background to Gengras himself.
“Billions of Christic Atoms” continues the barrage of electronics with a 4-4 beat, whirring effects, and sheets of shimmering melody. The arpeggiated tones shutter along like a strobe light in pitch black. The stoic melody cycles and shifts in and out of focus while the edges of each sound unravels onto tatters. “Series of Energies” closes the album with the most sinister, or demented, process here. The atonal melody sounds like it’s been run through a random set of unrelated synthesizers, with uncoordinated percussion playing back the beat unapologetically. The sounds seem to veer toward mutant disco with a hearing disorder. Lovely stuff.