Electronic artist M. Geddes Gengras accompanied Sun Araw and reggae greats the Congos on 2012's noise/dub culture clash Icon Give Thank and explored jumpy modular synthesizer patches the same year on his own Test Leads album. Ishi takes Gengras' synth ruminations in an entirely different direction, abandoning the sunny and anxious sounds of his work just preceding it for spacious, cold, and alien soundscapes of sprawling ambient meditations. The four songs that make up the album (including the 43-plus-minute album closer "Vigil") are long excursions into deep space, building into dreamlike fields of arpeggiated notes on standout track "Passage." Droning interstellar synth music is sometimes lighter in character, but Gengras' sounds feel more alive, if cold and possibly dangerous. Undercurrents of noise lurk beneath the tranquil synth tones, and a scratchy layer of analog tape defects seems to coat the entire album, even in its most peaceful sections. The result of hearing Ishi in full is a desolate, somewhat submerged feeling, with both the sounds of space travel and the light years of loneliness and isolation coming through in the album's many layers of gentle noise and spiraling synth leads.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas