Track Trek: Gas—“Untitled (A1)”

By Alex Ryu, Feature photo via

Track Trek is an irregular retrospect review of forgotten tracks of various genres that deserve a second viewing, with an analysis that describes why it deserves so. Track Trek is written by Alex Ryu.

For this week, we travel to Germany, a country that holds so much history and experience in terms of music. Practically everything you’ve heard – ranging from classical, rock, pop to electronic  – wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the pioneers of the third largest music market in the world. Within the electronic genre, many German electronic artists emerged from the oversaturation of synthpop and Eurobeat competition back in the late 80s and 90s, with one hit wonders defining their careers. However, you also have artists who have revolutionized the genre. Alongside innovators such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, a name that comes to mind is Wolfgang Voigt.

Born in 1961, he, alongside with his brother Reinhard Voigt are considered the influential co-founders of the minimal techno scene in Germany. He has released over 100 albums under various aliases in different labels, and apart from being a musician, he has also founded his own labels, including the famed independent electronic label Kompakt. A tireless producer, Voigt continues to create and inspire the minimalist movement within the industry to this day.

Of all of his different aliases (one for every experimental genre he produces), one stands out as arguably his most accessible alias, thanks to its ambitious presentation value that contrasts to the usual ambient scene even by Voigt’s standards. GAS is a solo music project that attempts to “bring the forest to the disco and vice-versa,” citing Voigt’s youthful experience with LSD in a forest near his hometown as inspiration. While all of the albums are titled, all of the songs remain untitled (except for his first release, Modern EP), with each song containing different patterns and twists.

In general, many of GAS’ tracks are known to follow a specific blueprint: the songs are in a constant loop, often with a dense, hypnotic sound, and ambient wash accompanied by a repetitive 4/4 drum beat within the layers. The songs are known to not have any sort of progression. Instead the supposed progression is stretched to subtly accommodate the song from start to finish. Speaking of start to finish, they are noted to not have a beginning or end – most songs being with a fade in before ending with a fade out. As a result, the songs often don’t have an orthodox melody or chord progression, in comparison to most songs released today. To avoid repetition among other tracks, each GAS songs differentiate themselves with different themes in each album, giving each track to shine with different drones, snare beats and “forest perspectives” to reflect over.

One track, “Untitled” from the A1 side (which replaces the first track of the CD version [which can also be found in the Oktember EP]) is found only on the vinyl pressing of GAS’ third album Königsforst (Named after the same forest where he had his LSD experience), in which the vinyl pressing is often regarded as a rare collector’s item – some copies can be sold up to a thousand dollars. Compared to the other discography, the song seems to be on its own tantrum. While it does begin with a fade in, cumulating with a drone and the 4/4 beat throughout the song, there happens to be a hint of a progression layer by the first and third portion of the song, as noted from the additional crescendo of a string-like melody that accompanies the primary horn-like composition that dominates the entire track. The result sets a positive and awaking atmosphere that is rarely accomplished within the ambient genre, even with the ambient house subgenre.

This track remains mysterious as it is nearly impossible to find it physically. Ironically, for a hard-to-find track, it is arguably his most listenable track that would even catch attention to those who remain stubborn against everlasting loops in music. Thus in a rare showing, Wolfgang Voigt has managed to record a track that, despite appearances, is the mystical presentation that breaks a few rules within a sea of familiar concepts. KOMPAKT


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