Wolfgang Voigt – Lost in Königsforst

Wolfgang Voigt - GAS - Nah Und Fern 2LP
Through a wonderful stroke of good fortune, I am now honored to have claimed a copy of Nah Und Fern for my vinyl library.  A milestone compilation – both for Wolfgang Voigt, performing under his legendary moniker GAS, and for the incredible impact the recording had on my own musical experience.

GAS is ambient minimal techno in its purest form.  Voigt’s samples are ghostly sonic elements – formless and featureless.  There is no melody, no key, no pitch, and no progression for the listener to cling to.  Instead, the pieces, (all untitled), pulse steadily in place, with no discernible beginning or end.

Voigt, himself describes it as “GASeous music, caught by a bass drum just marching by, that streams, streams out through the underwood across the forest soil.”  The music of these projects were inspired by Voigt’s LSD experiences in the Königsforst forest near Köln.

There are four albums in the GAS project – Gas, Zauberberg, Königsforst and Pop.  Released between 1996 and 2000, the albums were later compiled into a 4CD box set titled Nah Und Fern in 2008 on the Kompakt label.

This limited vinyl release consists of four side-long edits, the first of which is exclusive to the LP.

GAS was my initiation into drone music, and led me on a rewarding path of discovery with albums like Jimmy Cauty’s Space, Robert Rich’s Somnium,  Black Swan’s vinyl-only releases, and later to Voigt’s own influences – namely Wagner and Schoenberg.  A delightful friend and ambient guru first played GAS for me in his bookshop, and the rest was history.

But Nah Und Fern does not come cheap, and I confess that I approached the purchase with some hesitation.  Thankfully all my doubts were vanquished when I learned that the gentleman who sold me his copy was a fellow member of the Youtube Vinyl Community!

Critics have called it many things – zero-gravity club music, tunes for lucid dreaming, underwater techno, or as Wire put it, “an outdoor rave, heard floating through the air from a neighbouring village.”  One thing is certain – this is drone music at its finest.

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 10:43 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. I love what Wolfgang Voigt is doing with his GAS releases. (Unintended play on words notwithstanding) Truly as you say, this is a real find on vinyl, some that will stand the test of decades. I got my copy on CD shipped from Europe years ago, after getting the single CD release of Nah Und Fern, which contains a track of the same name as the compilation. For those of us who do not have this single CD compilation, the track can be found on the red GAS compilation of rarities, prevously, only possible to get with the book of the same name, now available digitally. Of interest to those who like the efforts of GAS, is Mr. Voigt’s other effort popnoname, both his remixes under this moniker and his tracks for the annual Pop Ambient compilation under Kompakt are worth the time, of special note among them is a track called Nach 1912, Reminiscent of Gas’ eponymous album, it clangs along with a Subdued Christmassy vibe. There’s Christmas music we can all get behind! Through that between the two Cocteau Twins Christmas Singles and, Baby, you got a stew goin’

  2. Of Voigt’s other Aliases: of X-Lvis, Strass, Popacid, Panthel, Intus, Doppel, Digital, Dieter Gorny, Brom, C.K. Decker, and Centrifugal Force, I’ve not been able to track down any releases, and know little about them. I’ve never heard a track by Mint I didn’t love, highlights, Gymnopedie, Hochlicht, All (Remix), Edeltrance 1, Phonogam, and Hindemith. His work under Freiland is eclipsed by Basic Channel, and AFX, although his track Geduld, also known under his own name, is Claustrophobic, yet funky. It keeps the pressure up, His work as Studio 1 is decent minimal techno but somewhat eclipsed by Maurizio’s M Series. Love Inc’s Respect, and New Jack City are Chuffing good Acid Techno, on par with AFX’s Universal Indicator Releases, almost like a blend of that and His Analord Releases. I’m not a big fan of Love Inc’s “Life’s a Gas” album, just feels too much like muzak to me. His Releases as Wasserman, are bouncy ball, 4 to the floor aggressive techno, like WIR and Spring, and his latest release under this moniker last year, Dumpfe Töne, his approach mellows somewhat, opting to give us a taste of local culture, with tubas, accordians, and other horns abounding, which was perhaps his goal all along. Grungerman is all over the place. as Fuchbau, the only thing I’ve heard is Null Eins from 2003, its pretty good though, got some Nine Inch Nails Vibes going. Some really good ominous stuff like Fackeln im Sturm, and just strange europop remixes, Mike Ink is solid jungle-ist acid techno, I’m Sure RDJ would’ve been proud to put Polka Trax on Wax, as well as Live Evil, also by Mike Ink, a good representation of the best of Polka Trax would be Paroles. and Indulto is a track that is claimed by both Mike Ink and previously released under Crocker. Vinyl Countdown is represented by tracks like Sensolution, Cure, Animal Republic, and a track shared with Mike Ink on Polkatrax, Paroles, and my favorite, basser, are full of acid goodness. His work as Datenzauber is poppy, clean, and snappy; definitely worth checking out on Speicher 66, and His work as Filter is buzzy, gritty and Der Zahn der Ziet pretty solid, definitely recommended for those who like Basic Channel. Rechtek/Sagezahn is less recommended, still OK however. Split Inc’s “How Deep is Your Love” is so good, almost like Gas’s eponymous release without all the fog. I’d bet that Popacid’s remixes are somewhat similar to this, if you can find them. Tricky to document which tracks he wanted to represent each artist, as many of the tracks are released in different versions depending on the the artist name, for instance, Grungerman’s releases are sometimes known as Mike Inc, Mike Inc’s releases sometimes known as Split Inc, etc… Finally, I’ll discuss music published under Wolfgang Voigt’s own name, His Kafkatrax release is minimally percussive whilst building a cinematic feel, his Rckverzauberung release evokes The Beatle’s Revolution Number Nine, as well as Wagner, Angelo Badalamenti, and Gyorgi Ligeti. His track Zither und Horn, on Pop Ambient 2010, evokes Stars of the Lid. Last but not least, his GAS release under Wolfgang Voigt, as a book, (red label) I’ve previously discussed. Another cool Gas track is Oktember pt.2 If I recall Correctly, Part 1 is on the Nah Und Fern Compilation, if not very similar to Eins from Konigsforst. Part 2 is superior, conjuring the image of a shadowy cabal assembling.

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