Wolfgang Voigt, co-founder of the infamous Cologne, Germany-based record label, KOMPAKT, has returned with his fifth studio album under his GAS moniker, with Narkopop. It is the first in seventeen years, following 2000’s, POP.
The first GAS record was released in 1996, inspired by Voigt’s youthful LSD experiences, whilst walking through Königsforst, a forest situated near his hometown. His intention was to “bring the forest to the disco, or vice-versa.” As it holds true to most work that falls under the ambient category, the focus was placed on experimenting with textual environments and exploring depths of stereo field. However, Voigt has paved a new direction for the subdued, beat-less genre.
What differentiates Narkopop from other ambient records in the scene is the heavy presence of classical music footprints, such as pieces by Richard Wagner, Arnold Schoenberg, and Claude Debussy. Characteristically true to GAS, most tracks are accompanied with a four-on-the-floor kick as well, uniting ambient music with four/four techno. The combination of these attributes creates a rich, symphonic, and cinematic sound. Contrarily, the music of Narkopop also sounds like death after a rave, when your soul travels underwater and the sound of the kick attempts to revive you.
Narkopop easily stands on its own, in comparison to the other GAS records. Although there is nothing entirely new and exciting as far as inventiveness is concerned, POP, was noticeably more loop-based and rhythmically meditative, rather than textually. The elements of minimal techno have been reconstructed into the orchestral. Honorable mention goes to ” Narkopop 2,” for its full-bodied nature, velvety strings, tasteful dissonances, instrumental variation, and of course the far away, sedative kick that glues everything together.
If you have an hour and seventeen minutes to spare for speculation and total submergence, or if you need an accompaniment to your forest walk, take a listen.