22 Apr 2017

GAS - Narkopop (album review)

On Narkopop, Wolfgang Voight - a.k.a GAS - situates his brand of sonic naturalism away from the pastoral. In his dense, foreboding forest, the shadows of trees morph into spectres; moonlight pierces the eye, projecting vivid, lysergic imagery. Narkopop is the first GAS release since 2000's Pop, yet as a project, his work appears to have only grown in impact over each passing year. The sound has always been a singular one, akin to rippling lakes in the depths of pitch black woodlands, whilst the distant reverberations of industrialised towns seep in across the still air. Most exciting of all is the fact that it reignites a lineage of experimental German music, connecting the dots between modern electronic meddlings and the Krautrock forebearers of the 1970s.  

The ambience practised here is far from placid mood music. More evocative, tangled, off the beaten track. It's a sound steeped in psychedelics - a huge inspiration for the project actually being acid trips taken amidst German forests. Narkopop 8 is track of muffled, seismic shifts, as if hearing tectonic plates collide from earth's stratosphere, whilst Narkopop 2's dub techno almost seems to ascend from the earth's actual core. Sometimes the album appears to be fixated upon micro textures, whilst at other moments great sweeps of symphonic bliss protrude in the mix, a sound overcome by magisterial splendour.

The omnivorous feel is far more overpowering than his peers and imitators, never pondering or aimless, consistently adventurous and untamed. Several commentators have linked the latest release to Angelo Badalamenti's work with David Lynch, and it's a comparison that holds true. The two share that affinity towards simple but beguiling melodies, which plunge deeply into the subconscious. It's as if the town of Twin Peaks was stripped of its characters, the greenery left to engulf the man made structures, but the menace of the events which unfolded left permanently imprinted upon the town.

All this talk of wildlife could feasibly be tainted with 'new-age' ideas about 'finding yourself', or 'becoming one with nature', yet in Voight's wilderness you may uncover more malign spirits than you'd bargained for. It takes the forest away from quaint, hippie-ish ideas, and becomes all the more compelling as a result. Here, you don't venture into the woods for peace of mind, but to become ever more lost; psychedelic and trippy it may be - there are even scattered moments of tranquil beauty - but above all, it reveals this environment to ultimately an unknowable one.

Put alongside with his seminal run of albums - Gas, ZauberbergKönigsforst and Pop - and you'll find an artist who consistently delves further into his unique, inimitable mind. This not only stands side by side with the remainder of his work, but actually ventures beyond, unravels to a greater degree, pushing forward what can be accomplished in electronic sound.


(Words: Eden Tizard)