Gas - Rausch

by David Bruggink Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-18
Gas - Rausch
Gas - Rausch

Wolfgang Voigt’s releases under his Gas moniker have always sought to reveal some latent menace or euphoria within the natural world, using the language of ambient music to channel the experience of being in a forest. His album covers, too, have reinforced this concept, with imagery of evergreen trees, skeletal branches, or sun-dappled leaves often mirroring the sense of dread, wonder, or delight that comes with being fully surrounded by nature.

The cover of Rausch, like last year’s Narkopop, leans toward the more unsettling of the Gas albums, but also seems to introduce a new idea. Its forest view is untamed and bucolic like the others, and yet close inspection shows it to be digitally processed, as branches and needles form artificially repeating patterns. Where Narkopop was unsettling in its darkness, Rausch is disturbing in its subtle blending of natural and synthetic. The pleasure of Gas albums is how effortlessly they seem to simply exist without the involvement of a creator, so maybe the cover is a sly nod towards the necessity of a digital intermediary in sharing and making electronic music.

Heavy-handed analysis aside, some of the tracks are among Voigt’s best. ‘Rausch 1’ truly feels like stepping into a forest, with the slowly rising hiss of static sounding remarkably similar to wind rustling through trees in autumn. Its deeply resonating bass tones suggest more dramatic things to come, and indeed it’s not long before a trademark repeating thump is introduced. As always, the elements recall sounds that are so intrinsic that they usually go unnoticed in the body or in the natural world: the rushing of blood, the beating of a heart, the flowing of water, and the whisper of leaves.

’Rausch 6’ may be a contender for the most beautiful track in the Gas catalog, its plaintive chords almost sounding like fragments of a piece by Max Richter, albeit clouded with reverb and processed distortion. ‘Rausch 5’ builds momentum with a near-tribal beat and gradually shifts into, yes, an ambient techno track haunted by the ghost of a flamenco song. 

Unlike much of his earlier work, Rausch is sometimes aflutter with the discernible melodies of bowed and plucked strings, which intrude in ways both pleasant and disconcerting. Just as you’re beginning to settle comfortably into one of the pillowy grooves Voigt is so adept at creating, a snatch of discordant notes will confound your expectations, causing you to wonder where the song was truly headed all along. For that reason, I think Rausch might not be the best starting point for listeners new to Gas, who I suspect would be more easily drawn into his excellent Nah Und Fern compilation. Nevertheless, Rausch is a highly absorbing addition that manages to present new angles to a consistently rewarding project.

 

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