Wolfgang Voigt, the godfather of Cologne's electronic dance scene of the 1990s,
recorded under an infinite number of monikers:
as X-Lvis the EPs Yellow 8 (1991), Formicula 4 (1991), Dog Star Man (1991) and Pacific 231 (1991);
as Love Inc the EPs Do You Feel Love (1991), his classic Trance Atlantic XS (1992), Monoculture (1993), New Jack City (1994), with his classic R.E.S.P.E.C.T., The Look Of Love (1994), How Deep Is Your Love (1995), and finally the album Life's A Gas (Force Inc, 1995), a summary of his surreal house style;
as Panthel the EPs Stardiver (1991), M*A*S*S*H (1991), House Hallucinates (1992), Someday (1992), X - Beat (1992), etc.
as Mike Ink the EPs The Dialogue (1991), Lovely Ugly Brutal World (1993), Illegal (1993), 5 Years On Acid (1993), Rosenkranz (1994), Dadajack (1994), We Call It Acid (1994), Paradise City (1994), Live Evil (1995), Polka Trax (1996), and especially Paroles (1996), one of Voigt's classics;
as Dextro NRG the EPs Sun Moon Stars (1991), Stomp (1992) and Morella (1993);
as Vinyl Countdown the EPs Sensolution (1991), Cure (1992), Animal Republic (1993) and Machine Head (1995);
as Centrifugal Force the EP Killed by (1992);
as MI5 the EPs Structuralism (1992), Autogen 10 (1994), Tamastar (1995), Rondo (1996), 5:0:1 (1997), and finally the album Masstab 1:5 (1997);
as Crocker the single Indulto (1994);
as Mint the EP Phonogam (1994);
as Grungerman the EPs Hout (1995) and Fackeln Im Sturm (1997);
as Digital the EP Intoleratio (1996);
Mike Ink also released a collaboration with Joerg Burger
(who had recorded albums under the monikers Bionaut, Ethik, and Burger Industries, and would later record as the Modernist):
Las Vegas (Harvest, 1996), credited to Burger/Ink.
The titles of the songs reference
Roxy Music but there is little in their
sublime minimal techno style to remind one of Brian Eno's first band.
The mix of hallucinogenic synth and acrobatic rhythm of Avalon is merely
indulgent, but the frenzied galactic tapping of Elvism stands as a
testament to dancefloor creativity.
The eleven-minute Twelve Miles High may sound like an academic less in
elegant mutations of beat, but the other eleven-minute composition,
Love Is The Drug Paris Texas, is a house-music panzer-juggernaut
with drizzling piano notes that appear random until they coalesce
in what sounds like inspired jazzy piano improvisation.
This is both artistic and scientific genius.
The album explores a stunning variety of forms: the
harsh industrial overtones of Flesh & Bleed,
the surgically vivisected synth-pop of Milk & Honey,
the catchy folk carillon of The Jealous Guy From Memphis,
the quasi-mariachi indolence of Swiss Made,
all the way down to the subdued and muffled Do The Strand.
Bring Trance Back To Las Vegas
even evokes the galopping rhythm (and the mandolin) of country music.
A delightful romp that defies the physics of dance music.
His main project was Gas, launched by the EP Modern (1995).
The first album, Gas (Mille Plateaux, 1996), was a schizophrenic collection of both ambient and techno tracks in which the two elements were not well
His minimalist-ambient techno style was inaugurated with
Zauberberg (Mille Plateaux, 1997) on which he achieved
a haunting fusion of the two elements. The dance beat coexisted with
abstract drones obtained by manipulating samples of classical music and
then scarred by tiny digital noises.
Voigt adapts the aesthetic theory of
Brian Eno's On Land and
Throbbing Gristle's D.O.A.
to electronic dance music.
The tidal celestial drones of 1 compose a collective "om" over
a delicate crackling noise that feels more liquid than gas.
Much more movement stresses the 14-minute 2, starting with a prominent beat and angst-filled strings.
4 unwinds a torpid hallucinated blend of vibrating strings and pulsating machines.
A perverse nuclear rattling and a swampy suspense-filled rhythm populate 5.
A complete transformation takes place in 6, that begins in a jarring
timbre and evolves into an ear-splitting atonal fanfare.
The 13-minute 3 boasts possibly the best combination of drones and beats,
with the static buzz creating an anticipation for Suicide's sinister neurosis while the gentle organ surges evoke the
languid stately cosmic music of Tangerine Dream's Zeit and the beat never budges from a lugubrious jungle tom-tom.
The nine-minute 7 closes the album with in an anthemic tone that grows in
emphasis for five minutes but then folds into a dark drifting nebula.
Voigt's art consists in matching drones and beats to achieve maximum psychological penetration.
The main limitation of this style is, of course, that the music is mostly built on loops. The composer meticulously shapes the samples but then it is relatively
easy to let them loop for several minutes before introducing tiny changes.
Konigforst (1998) is a mixed bag.
The nine-minute Eins engineers a masterful encounter between an
orchestral tide and a slightly anomalous techno beat before pushing them
into a wasteland of industrial urban noise.
The 14-minute Zwei, instead, is too static, an amateurish
attempt to create hypnosis out of droning string samples and ping-pong beat
over a crackling background radiation (speed up the piece 4 times and it
becomes much more interesting).
Drei is perhaps the poetic zenith of the album, vertigoes of cello chords floating in a cloudy sky, and Vier is a simple luminous "om".
The 15-minute journey Funf lacks development: looped magniloquent floating bass-synth (or trombone) lines slowly pick up steam as its elements grow and become more audible (too little for a 15 minute piece).
Voigt's tactics are more intensely fused in Sechs, a dense revolving dustball of beats, samples and drones that achieves a chromatically brilliant synthesis of the album.
Gas adopted a less radical stance on
the EP Oktember (1999) and especially on the fourth album
Pop (Mille Plateaux, 2000) which mostly disposes of the beat.
The eight-minute 2 is soothing new-age music for manipulated vocals and electronics,
3 toys with ocean waves,
the monolithic organ-like drone of the eleven-minute 5 is ideal for meditation:
these are facile compositions that greatly simplify the process of the previous
More challenging are
the nine-minute 4, which is built around the metallic pounding of a hammer,
and the 14-minute 7, that dusts off his trademark 4/4 beat and proudly
displays in the foreground while the drones swell and swell, a return to
the dancefloor hedonism of Burger/Ink.
Zauberberg’s gloomy atmosphere reappears in
the nine-minute 6 that swims and breathes underwater bouncing against
If Zauberberg was claustrophobic and terrifying,
and Konigforst heartless and mechanic,
Pop was transcendental.
The quadruple-disc box-set Nah Und Fern (Kompakt, 2008) collects all four Gas albums, whereas
Gas (Raster-Norten, 2008) collects rarities.
Meanwhile, Voigt continued to release music under other monikers:
as RX7 the EP Wankelmotorbass (1997);
as Dom the EP Fackeln Im Sturm (1998);
as Popacid the EPs I'm Not In Love (1998) and When Love Breaks Down (1998);
as Filter the EPs Rechteck/ Saegezahn (1998) and Der Zahn Der Zeit (1999);
as Strass the EPs Zwei (1998) and Alles Ist Gut (1998);
as Auftrieb the mini-album Loikum 1 (1998);
as Freiland the EPs Orangerot (1998), Blau (1998), Silber (1999), Gelb (1999), Dunkelgruen (1999), Schwarz (1999);
as Doppel the single Galoppmusik (1999);
as Riss the five singles Undertaker (1999), Prinzipal (1999), Get It On (1999), Hausdepp (1999), and Rissko Acid Catch (1999);
as Split Inc the singles Funky Town (1999) and How Deep Is Your Love (1999);
as Wassermann the EPs W.I.R. (1999) and Ende Der Schonzeit (2002);
as All two albums, Ueberall (1999) and Alltag 1-4 (2001);
as Fuchsbau the EP Null/Eins (2003);
as Intus the EP Absolut/ Mescal (2007);
as Sog the EPs Speicher 49 (2007), Speicher 53 (2007), Abweichung (2010), Fremde Haende (2011), For The Love Of God (2012), Stoa 1 (2014);
as Datenzauber the EP Speicher 66 (2010);
Studio 1 (Kompakt, 2009) collects Voigt's minimal techno of the 1990s.
Voigt experimented with piano on Freiland Klaviermusick (Kompakt, 2010) and with voice deconstruction on Kafkatrax (Profan, 2011).
Mohn, the duo of Voigt and Jorg Burger, recorded as
Burger/Ink, Burger/Voigt and finally Mohn (Kompakt, 2012), the latter
being an ambient psychological elegiac meditation that stands apart from
Voigt's dance music.
The EP Instant 303 (2014), a tribute to the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer, celebrated Kompakt's 303rd release.
Voigt released the EP Sound & Vision (2015) as Dieter Bowie.
Voigt's fifth album as Gas was released 17 years after the fourth.
Narkopop (Kompakt, 2017) is one seamless composition with each
movement (as usual, untitled) bleeding into the next one.
In general, the arrangement is much more intense, and the beats are barely
audible in the background.
The shorter overtures Narkopop 1 and Narkopop 3, that hide
slow-motion melodies inside their vast cavernous rumbles, craft an atmosphere
of mystery, suspense and yearning.
Narkopop 4 is the radiation left after a nuclear explosion: it is music that evokes a lifeless wasteland.
The ten-minute Narkopop 2 sounds like Klaus Schulze's Irrlicht played through a thick fog of abrasive glitches during the projection of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.
The first four pieces are the most austere and uncompromising.
The most accessible piece is Narkopop 5, with its rising militaristic beat and the trumpet that intones a funereal dirge.
Narkopop 6 generate stately symphonic clusters out of harp tones.
The nine-minute Narkopop 7 emits Vangelis-grade magniloquence, although restrained from becoming a melody.
With Narkopop 8 the drones move slowly into Schulze's "cosmic" territory again, except that this time the ascension and decay are perceptible.
Narkopop 9 is a bit dissonant.
The 17-minute Narkopop 10 marks a significant departure from the sound
of the album as an attack by a swarm of alien insects wakes up
the techno beat that is been asleep until now. As the wavering synth drone
rises, one expects the notes of Giorgio Moroder's From Here to Eternity. Instead, as the beat gets stronger,
a sort of lugubrious African choir emerges from the fog that has hidden
the landscape the whole time; perhaps remnants of humanity wandering through
the ruins of the nuclear holocaust.
Rausch (Kompakt, 2018) tested the patience of even his most devout
fans with a perpetual throbbing rhythm.
The seven lengthy pieces rarely achieve the magic of the previous albums.
The album opens with the magniloquent organ requiem Rausch 1, even more clearly inspired by Klaus Schulze's cosmic music.
Rausch 6 offers a more serene and celestial version of it, with the manic pulsation reduced to a puffing steam machine, an odd convergence of spiritual yearning and industrial inhumanity.
The trivial beat ruins the cosmic journey of Rausch 2, which would
otherwise be intriguing, especially the organ crescendos.
Rausch 3, dominated by samples of trumpet and strings, is 13 minutes of the same metronomic torture except that now the cosmic theme has been replaced by a more domestic, almost aquatic theme.
The shorter Rausch 4 fares a little better: at times it sounds like a glitch-electronica remix of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
The eight-minute Rausch 5 explicitly evokes classical music with clean samples of classical instruments, and suddenly the pneumatic beat acquires the superhuman flavor of Neu's motorik dystopias.
Rausch 7 toys with trumpet and percussion, stretching, distorting and multi-tracking them. If only we could remove that constant beat...
Rausch 5 and Rausch 6 (and to some extent Rausch 4) rescue the album from the obnoxious beat.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Marengo) |
Uno dei molti progetti di Wolfgang Voght, il padrino della scena dance di Colonia, era Gas. Il primo album, Gas (Mille Plateaux, 1996), era una collezione schizofrenica di brani ambient e techno nelle quali i due elementi non erano amalgamati. La sua ambient techno minimale venne inaugurata da Zauberberg (1997) e Konigsforst (1998), nelle quali eseguiva un'incantevole fusione dei due elementi. Il battito da dancefloor coesisteva con droni astratti ottenuti dalla manipolazione di campionamenti di musica classica poi sfregiati da minuscoli rumori digitali in un' atmosfera da dub cosmico.
Pop (2000) è letteralmente intesa come una conversione di Gas a formati più tradizionali. Il quadruplo cd-set Nah Und Fern (Kompact, 2008) raccoglie tutti i quattro album di Gas.
Gas (Raster-Norten, 2008) raccoglie rarità.
STUDIO 1 (Kompact, 2009) raccoglie la minimal techno di Voight degli anni novanta.
Wolfgang Voight sperimentò usando il pianoforte in Freiland Klaviermusick (Kompact, 2010) e con la decostruzione vocale su Kafkatrax (Profan, 2011).
Mohn, il duetto di Wolfgang Voight e John Burger, registrarono come Burger/Ink, Burger/Voight e infine Mohn (Kompact, 2012), l'ultima ad essere una meditazione psicologica elegiaca e ambientale che si allontana dalla musica dance di Voight.