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Review on GAS - Rausch

Released on Kompakt

About one year ago Wolfgang Voigts GAS, shrouded in myth, made a surprising and amazing comeback with the immense soundscapes of Narkopop, a record I was quite impressed with back then (and still am). Now a new opus by GAS emerged (not that surprisingly this time as Voigt gave a hint in last years’ interview). It is called Rausch (‘frenzy’ or ‘intoxication’) and it is, in good tradition of GAS records, quite something indeed.

Though every GAS album has its own specific atmosphere - the blood red gloom of Zauberberg, the shimmering lights of Pop (still one of the best five albums ever) and the immaterial elegance of Narkopop - obviously and famously a specific sound of GAS exists, a gigantic forest of orchestral shreds and heartbeat drums, layer upon layer morphing into one endless entity. In this sense Rausch is a GAS-album through and through, yet, just as the others it contains certain elements that appear in GAS for the first time. While the other GAS albums form one entity from (more or less) identifiable single tracks, Rausch is one single piece, one single hour-long track meant to be listened to in full. And so Rausch takes its first ten minutes only to approach slowly, to seep in on one stretched tone. Then the first beats appear, still heartbeat-like, nevertheless they sound quite different from past GAS heartbeats, less marching, more muffled and distant. And it’s not just the huge bass drum known from Königsforst or Narkopop, now there’s a tired kick drum with it. The strings and horns loom over this weird amorphous beat, they ebb and swell, and a feeling of getting lost, of disorientation emerges. But again, different from what we know from GAS this time its not the listener getting lost in the huge forest, the forest itself is somehow blurred and frail. For Rausch Wolfgang Voigt created these elements of dissonance and uncertainty, leaving no clear pass to follow. Still Rausch has its parts of sublime unreal beauty, with a wall of strings wailing majestically, but most of the time there’s a starkness underneath that disturbs the seas of tranquility, sometimes taking over, as the low-frequency mechanical droning does that comes in around minute 32, absorbing it all. Amazing. And so Rausch meanders between (dark) ambient spheres and beat-driven parts, occasionally developing a surprisingly thumping energy, then it slowly fades out the way it started, not gently but maybe neutralising.

All these multilayered, sometimes contradictory elements in one piece make Rausch a both very complex and very moving and compelling work, there’s a strange tension in this erratic cosmos you just won’t find elsewhere. Rausch is a dark record, bleaker than its predecessors, charged with feelings and emotions that you might call ‘human’, a word that you wouldn’t have chosen to describe GAS so far. But it’s the hesitating and shaking and a strange kind of desolation that seem to mirror the current state of civilization making Rausch the GAS opus that’s the most human indeed, a classification that illustrates the obvious fact that mankind is in deep trouble.

It’s exciting to see that, though the whole GAS-thing on first listen appears as quite monolithic, it constantly evolves and changes, making Rausch (of course) one of the most interesting and impressive records you’ll get to hear this year.

(I just listened to new material by an act who also very much built its own empire and is in a way comparable to GAS: Autechre who release their eight hours of NTS Sessions these days. Evidently their style and approach slightly differ but Autechre also managed to develop a singular vision of sound that is, though people still try, not reproducible or imitable. Wolfgang Voigt as well as Autechre seem to be able to create and advance it quite effortlessly. How the hell do they do it? Weird.)

Written by João Geck
21.05.2018 - 12:36 – by Hendrik Warnke / hendrik@wordandsound.net

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