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Techno auteur Wolfgang Voigt has, since the early-`90s, taken a circumscribed route toward musical invention. Working under an array of pseudonyms (Mike Ink, Studio 1, M:I:5, and more), each handle explores one particular wrinkle within the infinite variations afforded by techno's four-on-the-floor rhythms. In true minimalist fashion, Voigt has made a virtue of austerity; stripping away layers of excess to reveal a hidden microcosm of music found within desiccated thumps, clicks, and whirs. In difference to those projects' near monomaniacal devotion to reductionism, Voigt's Gas alias takes an airy path toward the luxuriant, distended surfaces of ambient drone. NAH UND FERN is a career-marking recap of all four out-of-print Gas albums from 1996 to 2000, here memorialized as a deluxe box-set edition. Whereas most ambient projects serve as mere vehicles for quasi-New Age escapism--a tendency that can only be ascribed to a kind of ideological disengagement--Voigt makes explicit the post-modern, sample-based re-contextualization at play on NAH UND FERN. Using snippets of German and Austrian modernist classical composers, the source materials are truncated and looped beyond recognition, leaving faint vestiges of their orchestral origins. Buried under crackling layers of hiss and static are telltale remnants of the music's Teutonic lineage--distant horn fanfare or a mournful piano-inflected mist. The four discs comprise the four albums (all containing a handful of untitled tracks), each with a distinct thematic leaning. 1996's self-titled debut contains the most tangible reference points in post-rave dance music--a murky version of dub-techno emerging from a primordial fog. The follow up, ZAUBERBERG (1997), starts to reveal an added dimension of thematic cohesion that is continued on KONIGSFORST (1999), the critical and formal apogee of the series. For Voigt's final installment, POP (2000), he takes a decidedly different tact, away from the dark imagery of the Bavarian forest, towards the gleaming, effervescent surfaces of AVALON-era Roxy Music--an aesthetic he later defined through his POP AMBIENT series as label-boss for the leading German imprint, Kompakt
- Nah Und Fern