Friday, June 13, 2008

director's cut of Frieze feature, May, 2008



by Simon Reynolds

It starts with a fanfare, dilated into a canopy of somber sonorousness, a slowly unfurling cloud-bank of sound like the distant lowing of massed alpine horns. Listening, you feel like you're on a high mountain path, looking down on mist draping the lower slopes. When the bass-drum pulse finally kicks in, it's like your heart starting up again after being stopped dead with awe.

This is the title-less fifth track of Konigsforst, part of a remarkable tetraology of techno albums released in the late Nineties under the name Gas, by the prolific producer Wolfgang Voigt. Although critically acclaimed at the time for those releases and his work using alter-egos such as Mike Ink and M:I:5, Voigt is best known today as co-founder of Kompakt, the Cologne-based label that's contributed more than any other to Germany's dominance of electronic dance music this decade. Voigt's decision to reissue the four Gas albums on Kompakt (they originally came out on Frankfurt's Mille Plateaux label) as a deluxe box set titled Nah und Fern, in parallel with the publication via Raster Noton of a book of photographic work (an integral, if not widely known, element of the Gas project) that also includes a CD of unreleased music, is an intriguing gesture. It's a statement of belief in the artistic durability of (some) electronic music, at a time when the sheer volume of output and high turnover of micro-fads in post-rave music contributes to a sense of "growing ephemerality" (Voigt's words). The monumentality of the box set--a chest for sounds worth treasuring--claims for techno what is a routine occurrence (and unexamined assumption) within rock: this music will stand the test of time. The Gas work passes Posterity's entrance exam. Alongside the records released contemporaneously by Berlin's twinned labels Basic Channel and Chain Reaction, these albums represents the towering achievement of German electronic music in the second half of the Nineties.

The core of the Gas series resides in 1997's Zauberberg and 1998's Konigforst. Although partly bidden by Voigt's overt framing of the project through the album titles and the color-treated cover pictures (Konigforst's sunlight dappling through the leaf canopy, Zauberberg's sombre throng of conifer trunks, both derived from the photographic stockpile that composes the accompanying book), the music does irresistibly conjure mind's eye imagery of rugged natural grandeur: the deep forest's rustling shadows, Alpine vistas of altitude and remoteness. Named after woodlands near Cologne, Konigforst actually gives off more of an alpine aura--sensations of panoramic splendor and rare air--than does Zauberberg (which translates as Magic Mountain). On the latter, the tenebrous shimmers and lustrous darkness of "Vignt et un" make me picture a regiment of dwarves marching through Tolkien's Mirkwood.

In interviews at the time Voigt talked of his desire "to bring the German forest into the disco". Gas was the first publically released product* of a fictitious "lab project" called Blei, which involved Voigt putting Austro-German classical music (Wagner, Berg, Schoenberg), brass bands, volksmusik, and the schlocky middle-of-the-road pop known as schlager "under the microscope" in order to find a sort of audio-cultural DNA. The Gas sound is literally spliced together out of small samples from classical records, which Voigt subjected to processes of " zoom, loop, and alienation". The music's provenance is instantly audible from the rainfall-like hiss of aged vinyl, the discernibly orchestral sonorities of the grave cellos and tingling violins. There's a marvellous irony to the fact that one of the signal triumphs of techno, that most future-fixated genre, is sourced almost entirely in music from the latter decades of the 19th Century, when late Romantic composition scaled its summit of portentous majesty before swerving into the angst-wracked realm of twelve-tone and serialism.

Voigt received some criticism at the time from German music journalists, who, hyper-conscious of a shady side to the national cult of mountains and forest, worried that Gas was somehow the missing link between Eno's ambient classic On Land and "blood and soil". Over-sensitive as this may seem (surely that kind of craggy and verdant natural grandeur has a primordial appeal that cuts across cultures? Then again, perhaps "primordialism" itself is the problem...), it's understandable perhaps given that in German left-wing circles anything that seems to flirt with nationalism will necessarily invite close scrutiny. (This was also not that long after the reunification of West and East Germany, when all these issues were particularly raw).

It is also undeniable that historically Germany has had a peculiar thing for the Alps and the Wald (their term for uncultivated forest land, of which there remains an unusually large amount for an industrialised European nation). Zauberberg's title nods to Thomas Mann, but "magic mountain" has resonances that run through Goethe, Wagner, Strauss, and Nietzche, to name just a few. Prone to sickliness, Nietzche was literally inspired by the exhilarating air of Switzerland. He described his ideal reader as a hardy soul "accustomed to living on mountain tops" and possessed of "loftiness of soul"**. You could see Nietzche's philosophical ideal of "self-surpassing" as a kind of spiritual Alpinism, while his hermit-prophet Zarathusa spends ten years of solitude in the mountains before descending with wisdom for humanity. Richard Strauss in turn composed stirring works like An Alpine Symphony (which depicts a day-long climb to a mountain's peak) and Also Sprach Zarathusra, whose "mountain sunrise" sequence is well known to us as the bombastic main theme of 2001, A Space Odyssey.

"Zauberberg" is also a hair's breadth from Der Heilige Berg (The Holy Mountain), the title of Arnold Fanck's 1926 movie and one of the most famous "mountain films" (a genre unique to between-the-wars Germany and whose biggest female star was the young Leni Riefenstahl). Socialist critics in 1920s Germany accused the genre's cult of rugged athleticism and alpine purity of being "blatant propaganda for a lofty humanity and eternal blondeness," with the film historian Siegfried Kracauer subsequently concluding that their "overblown heroism and glorification of the German alps as a supernatural force" (the words here are Riefensthal biographer Jurgen Trimborn's paraphrase) prepared the climate for Nazism. Riefenstahl's later, allegedly apolitical work, Tiefland (Lowlands) ***, which was begun during World War Two but only released in 1954, was based on an obscure opera that contrasted decadent lowland dwellers with pure-of-spirit mountain folk: an opposition between "civilisation" (seen as Franco-Mediterranean) and "culture" (Germano-Nordic) briefly espoused by Thomas Mann himself during the First World War****.

As for the forest, there is an association between woodland and German national identity that goes back to the Romans' failure to conquer the Wald-dwelling pagan tribes, and reverberates on through German Romanticism, the Brothers Grimm, painters like Casper David Friedrich and Anselm Kiefer, and even the Green movement. ***** Although Voigt was tapping into all of this as part of his long-term desire to make a "genuinely German form of pop music", his primary associations were personal: childhood family vacations to the Alps, hallucinogen-enhanced teenage adventures in Konigsforst, which he describes as "Hansel and Gretel on acid" but also as a womb-like "spiritual refuge".

Contrasting the amorphous immensity of Gas (and similar "heroin house" records recorded by his peers for Basic Channel/Chain Reaction) with today's German electronic music, you can see a revealing shift in the meaning of 'minimal'. In the mid-Nineties, the word was suggestive of austerity and meditational spirituality. Even though the scene was rampantly druggy, underneath the hedonism there was a sense of quest, a reaching out to a transcendent beyond, a vastness conjured through music built to overwhelm. Gas took that impulse and connected it back to Romanticism, to an idea of the sublime as outside society and essentially barbarian. Today's electronic culture is secular and agnostic; 'minimal' connotes the elegance of exquisitely small details. Known initially as microhouse but now more commonly (and confusingly) called 'minimal', contemporary German electronica drifts around in the area between house, techno, trance, disco, and the more glitchy-twitchy zones of experimental electronics. Where minimal used to be based around reduction (Voigt's "high art of leaving out"), today it is often quite busy, riddled with fiddly nuances. Minimal signifies more what is avoided out of tastefulness: the crassly anthemic hooks of cheesy mainstream club music. Modern minimal is designed to reward the close attention of the connoisseurial ear, attuned to slight fluctuations of texture and rhythm but also historically informed enough to appreciate the borrowings and citations from earlier phases in dance music's rich tapestry.

"Connoisseur" is key , because contemporary minimal presents itself as gourmet audio for the discerning aural palate. Alongside its German counterparts such as Get Physical, Kompakt pioneered the art of positioning the record label as a quality brand. Of course, there has long been a cult of particular labels within techno. But what’s changed is how electronic music as a whole situates itself in relationship with the mainstream. In the Nineties, the subculture saw itself as both a vanguard and an underground; techno rhetoric then was full of appeals to "belief" and paramilitary imagery. And operations like Basic Channel or Underground Resistance did seem shrouded in mystery in a way that today’s labels, including Kompakt, couldn’t recreate even if they wanted to; digital culture’s over-bright omnipresence of knowledge has chased away the shadows (just as the digital audio workstations that took over at the close of the Nineties enabled the obsessively-finessed productions that today cluster under the misnomer 'minimal'). The mise en scene for the music has changed too. Minimal techno from the 90s brings to mind a cavernous space--a spartan hangar or hall (in Germany, the ultimate perhaps being E-Werk's abandoned power plant). "Minimal" today is mostly experienced in designer bars with comfortable seating and expensive bar prices.

For electronic music today, the model is no longer the underground (in opposition to mass culture) but the boutique (a niche market running in parallel with the mainstream but at a slight elevation******). But as I write this I realize that I’m reconstituting that dubious binary between culture and civilisation: 90s techno representing a cluster of values (heroic pioneers and explorers, the great outdoors) with an unmistakably virile cast, while early 21st century electronica suggests an equally gender-coded opposite (audio-décor*******, metrosexuality, postmodern pastiche)********. Vanguard itself is a term of military origin, of course.

It all seems an aeon ago, the idea of being a soldier for the techno "cause"--irrecoverable, even slightly silly. Gas was arguably the swan-song of that impulse. Beneath Voigt’s shimmering clouds of glory, there’s often a submerged martial feel to the rhythm, a trudging resoluteness. The sound, perhaps, of an army marching home to disband.*********


* Well, not quite the first: he slipped out an EP called Polka Trax in
1996. But the Gas records were the first to get attention, for their obvious beauty, but also for the ideas and methodology behind them (the credit on the original CDs reads Musikonzept: Wolfgang Voigt fur Blei., which seems only proper).

** Nietzche: "One should live upon mountains. With happy nostrils I breathe again mountain freedom. At last my nose is delivered from the odour of all humankind."

Also, in the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzche uses the word ‘Zauberberg’ in reference to Mount Olympus.

*** For more on the opposition between highlands and lowlands, see Barthes on The Blue Guide (a tourist book series) in Mythologies:

"The Blue Guide hardly knows the existence of scenery except under the guise of the picturesque. The picturesque is found any time the ground is uneven. We find again this bourgeois promoting of the mountains, this old Alpine myth (since it dates back to the nineteenth century) which Gide rightly associated with Helvetico-Protestant morality and which has always functioned as a hybrid compound of the cult of nature and of Puritanism (regeneration through clean air, moral ideas at the sight of mountain-tops, summit-climbing as civic virtue, etc). Among the views elevated by the Blue Guide to aesthetic existence, we rarely find plains… never plateaus. Only mountains, gorges, defiles and torrents can have access to the pantheon of travel, inasmuch, probably, as they seem to encourage a morality of effort and solitude."

Barthes detects a bias against landscapes that are cultivated and or otherwise linked to production (agriculture, trade, etc).

**** More on Thomas Mann and culture versus civilization, from the web, source unknown:

"His ‘Thoughts in War’, his praise of Frederick the Great as a man of action, his Reflections of an Unpolitical Man, are definitions of the German genius which, he asserts, is concerned with Nature, not Mind, with Culture as opposed to Civilization, with military organization and soldierly virtues. Culture is compatible with all kinds of horrors — oracles, magic, pederasty, human sacrifice, orgiastic cults, inquisition, witch-trials etc. — by which civilization would be repelled; for civilization is Reason, Enlightenment, moderation, manners, scepticism, disintegration — Mind (Geist). Culture is German. Civilization is predominantly French. Mann opposes Frederick the Great and Voltaire as archetypes of the opposition. Voltaire is a man of thought; Frederick, a greater hero, is a man of action. What Mann was arguing was very much what most German artists and writers were arguing — the ‘decadent’ took strength from a sudden nationalist identification."

***** For more on Germany and the forest, see, "The Forest in German Consciousness" by M. R. Mulford

From reading the execrable Human Smoke by the odious Nicolson Baker, I glean that during WW2 at Churchill insistence a lot of energy was put into dropping large tonnages of incendiary bombs on the Black Forest and similar Wald-y regions of Germany, partly because there were caches of munitions concealed within them that would explode in the resulting forest fire, but doubtless also because they were such a powerful symbol of German national identity.

****** The analogy would be with a chic fashion outlet, high-end furniture store, or artisanal foods store.

******* The shift here is from an aesthetic of the sublime to an aesthetic of the exquisite; from exterior grandeur to interior design. The Button Down Mind of Daniel Bell, an exceedingly pleasant 2000 mix-CD made by one of the former doyens of mid-90s minimal techno at its most hairshirt and emaciated for the German label Tresor, captures this shift to hedonism tempered by taste. (It's also a play on The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, a 1960 live comedy album).

******** An opposition that further maps onto Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: the "organic" cohesion of tribal community versus the exchange-based relations of market society. Rave's pursuit of collective singlemindedness, its tribal "massives", would then figure as a quasi-nationalism flying in the face of Fukuyama's "end of history". And Voigt really would be techno's Wagner.

(That in turn, would make modern microhouse producers equivalent perhaps to Les Six in post-WW1 France -- above all Erik Satie with his musique d'ameublement. As he put it, "there's a need to create Furniture music. That is to say, music that would be a part of the surrounding noise, that would take it in to account. I see it as melodious, as masking the clatter of knives & forks without drowning them completely, without imposing itself. It would fill up the awkward silences that occasionally descend on guests, it would spare them the usual banalities, moreover it would neutralize the street noises that indiscreetly force themselves in to the picture." Well, I've said it before on a number of occasions: microhouse, I always found, was the ideal thing to put on when we had guests round for dinner. Unobstrusive but without being anodyne.)

********* Tangentially the idea of the battle-weary army going home to disband made me think of how arguably the late Nineties--1996-1997-1998--was the last point at which techno could see itself and present itself in heroic terms; that was the peak, and falling away, of a moment, a movement. Zauberberg and Konigsforst's cousins then aren't so much Basic Channel/Chain Reaction or other German minimal things of that time, but certain key twilight anthems releases across the genrescape, all of which have a submerged militaristic pulse: in drum'n'bass, "Shadowboxing" and "Metropolis" and No U Turn monstertunes like "Squadron"; in gabba, the Mover and his cohorts consummate "final" statements like Pilldriver's "Apocalypse Never" and Renegade Legion's "Torsion" and perhaps the ultimate twilight-of-rave anthem, Reign's "Hall". The hall doubtless refers to some grim Flemish hangar full of E-zombies, but it always made me think of a big Viking hall with a long oak tables, shields on the walls, tankards, a blazing fire. In this elegiac light I'm now proposing, the track's mise en scene would in fact be Valhalla (or Valholl in Old Norse), Odin's hall, where dead warriors gather to wassail for eternity. Valiant heroes slain in battle are escorted to Valhalla by the Valkyries, c.f. the Wagner piece "Ride of the Valkyries", famously used in Apocalypse Now's "smell of napalm at dawn/Charlie don't surf" helicopter raid.

Also made around 1998-99 was The Horrorist and Miro's SuperPower anthem "Move (Don’t Stop)" with its lyrical references to "the future crusade" and its retro-tekno redeployment of classic hard house/techno-rave vamps in the Todd Terry style. Microhouse is built around the removal and absenting of those kind of rave signal riffs with their in-built "rally call" effect. Likewise the stomping march beat aspect dissolves in most microhouse (you could see schaeffel as a key moment in this demilitarization of techno). Increasingly there was a depletion of propulsiveness itself. I wish I could remember the guy's name (Ravi? Reza? Razi?) but there was a once-touted DJ/producer who was on Kompakt or Perlon or Playhouse who I saw play in New York in 2004 and really for the first time was struck by this curious quality of not-moving-forward to the music, a thrustlessness to the rhythm, to the point where its axis seemed to tilt toward the vertical rather than horizontal; detail and layers rather than development through time. The ultimate exponent of all this is of course Ricardo Villalobos: the winding-down vibe of "Easy Lee," the K-hole/screwed-like catatonia of "Dexter", above all The Au Harem D’Archimede. Here the electronic tone-colors are so thickly, humidly daubed, so pendulously gloopy, they virtually overpower the music’s forward drive completely, dragging it to a standstill. Interesting, too, that this mood of sensuous stasis would then conjure up a title evocative not just of domesticity but of a cloistered and Orientalised femininity, narcotic decadance.

To me, there is a homology between the micro level of individual tracks and the genre/culture as a whole: the tracks don't "go" (not like early 90s techno did, anyway) becauuse the genre/culture isn't going (anywhere) either. It's a movement that has ceased to move.


You've had an extraordinary number of alter-egos and artist names that you've operated under. I get the sense that they each have quite defined identities sonically and in terms of concepts and non-musical ideas, and the sense that this was particularly the case with Gas. Why did you pick that name, Gas? And embarking on the project, what was on your mind in terms of intentions, preoccupations, methodology?

One reason for the number of pseudonyms I used in the glorious 1990s certainly was that I needed a system to organize my complex, and excessive ideas. A lot was going on at that time, many things were extremely revolutionary and inspiringly new. In fact, each pseudonym/project title represented a different version of minimal electronic music. Another reason was that I liked the anonymity in production methods at that time, the artist could chose to stay anonymous. The project title GAS resulted from my feeling that this seemingly beginning- and endless, elegiac sounds, their intoxicatingly smooth, almost amorphous structure reminded of evaporating gas.

You talked, in the very interesting interview with DE:BUG that is online (and thankfully,from my point of view, in English!)
about putting German cultural history and music "under the microscope" (schlager, wagner, volksmusic, etc ) to find some kind of cultural DNA. And I understand Zauberberg and Konigsforst are built out of string sounds from German classical music (a development from the earlier project Blei, which used brass band sounds, horns, polka etc). Can you elaborate on both of these things?

Growing up in the pop subculture of the 1970s and 1980s, I am - like the rest of my generation - deeply influenced by Anglo-American music. In terms of quality and the many possible ways of expression, it seemed to be superior to any other music and German music in particular. But as adolescent music producer, I could neither identify with German rock music nor with the German attempts to "copy" the Anglo-American pop music. I was young and more excited about the idea to create a unique, genuine pop music style by extracting certain references from German classic, Schlager, volksmusik and brass music. And it should fit in with the subculture. And since the 1980s, under the fictitious project title BLEI, I have constantly been working on many different versions in innumerable lab tests. In a certain way, I "deliberately started from the wrong cultural premises": I processed this sound material by using different zoom, loop and alienation techniques thus releasing it from its original meaning. The major part of the results of this creative "lab testing" referring to pop and dance music disappeared in the drawer. But the work that referred to the "serious" part – GAS – which deals with sounds from Schönberg or Wagner, was released. Today my focus is not on this superstructure anymore. The most interesting thing about GAS is GAS itself, and not Wagner.

"Bringing the forest into the disco"--what an amazing idea! And you actually manage to do it. Can you tell me something about the significance of the forest in German culture and history? (In Britain there is a strong tradition of pastoralism but it is related to farmland, meadows, the idea of England as a garden. There isn't much wilderness or mountainous areas in the UK.)

Since the first time I had a distant bass drum marching through free-floating string loops, this naturalistic impression of a dark, nebulous forest was intermixing with the play of light and shadows of a stroboscope and fog in the dim darkness of the techno club.

In literature and history, there is this romantic myth of the German forest. And in fact, I feel as strongly associated with the forest as red little riding hood and the wolf. However, my work is not about referring to the original references in music or literature or to the forest itself. As I mentioned earlier, my focus is on reducing the "material" to its basic aesthetic basic structure in order to liberate it by using different processing techniques (microscope/zoom/detail). My intention is to create a kind of aesthetic essence, a cave from focussing on one single detail where you can get lost in.

There's also personal thing with Konigsforst being where you roamed as a youth, and your childhood family trips to the Alps… Was Gas related to the desires we all feel on reaching a certain age where we want to reconnect with our personal roots, "remind myself who I am"…. In your case, I imagine, after spending a long period totally immersed in a very urban style of music, techno, and a form of music that at that point was typically considered post-geographical, global, universal.

In psychology, there is this approach according to which we all want to go back into the womb if we do not like the world. Königsforst is a forest in the nearby of Cologne and in my youth, it often served as a place of spiritual refuge and place of inspiration. An aspect that is reflected both in the music of GAS and in the images and which goes back to certain intoxicating, psychedelic experiences I made at Königsforst. Haensel and Gretel on acid.

A German friend told me that Konigsforst was where Baader Meinhof buried their weapons! I told him I doubted that this was on your mind, but that I'd ask you anyway.

You know, in the 1970s, all kind of myths were spooking around at Königsforst, from Baader/Meinhof to the fascinating music from T.Rex, Kraftwerk Miles Davis, Bach.

Why did you pick the title Zauberberg? That's the name of a Thomas Mann novel, right. But with that title, was Mann himself referring to an earlier archetype to do with mountain mysticism?

Zauberberg in fact is one of the most outstanding works from Thomas Mann. And the title represents both: it pays homage to Mann and at the same time it refers to big cinema with Alps panorama.

What prompted you to want to bring the music out again at this time, in this format? Obviously it is great music that has stood the test of time remarkably well, whereas a lot of electronic music is very much tied to its moment, dancefloor fads or the state of technology at a particular time (and there is nothing wrong with that). But it's interesting that you are putting it together as a single bloc of creative work, with the visual aspect that most people weren't aware of now highlighted by the book, and the bonus CD (both excellent, I should say).

Thank you!

Time was ripe again for this re-release or let's say for picking up the vision of GAS again. After almost a decade of "abstinence", I found the GAS vision in good shape and even more urging to be released than ever before. One aspect certainly was, as you suggest, the growing ephemerality of the major part of today's electronic dance music. The once liberating, international minimal techno is threatened to degenerate into an unglamourous DJ kit and conformity due to a massive quantity overkill, by loss of values and arbitrariness. For me as an artist, it was important to continue my work on a higher (spiritual) level. And a vital part plays the growing need and necessity to create an everlasting value.

Because I had to expose the music part of my artistic work to the public opinion machine, I was able to protect the visual part against the "public". But the images have always been as important as the music. They originate from the same source and vision. In a certain way, the images represent the fraternal twin of the music brother who protects the silent, creative reserve of the soul.

In that DE:BUG interview you talk about how "long before Acid and a few other far-reaching incidents turned my cultural self-image upside down, my artistic zeal was mainly determined by one motive, namely to create something like a "genuinely German pop music". And further add that it felt imperative "not to imitate the international charts in a painfully bad way or to steal from black music, but rather to articulate yourself from what's available here."Was that a common experience for your generation of musicians --the struggle to find a true German musical identity in face of the Anglo-American pop hegemony?

It was not at all common for my generation of musicians. After the fall of the Neue Deutsche Welle movement in the early 1980s, you could choose between BAP (Cologne dialect rock) and Modern Talking if you wanted to listen to German "pop music". At that time, I rather had my very own personal vision of creating German-speaking pop music that could bear the comparison with the Pet Shop Boys' standard. Today, some of which I was dreaming of in the 1980s does exist today, but it is "different". There is a lot of pop music with German texts that cannot be defined neither as Schlager nor province rock. Any much of it is as dumb as it used to be. But it is not dumb anymore because it is in German, but because it is dumb itself. German language has become more common in pop music, even if it is often unbearably deformed or twisted.

Would you say these issues have subsequently been resolved with the success of microhouse/minimal and the way that Germany has become the spiritual homeland of electronic dance music in the last decade (with DJs from America and the U.K. actually emigrating there, etc)?

It is true: International minimal techno has conquered the world for quite a while now. Which is fine and I am glad to have been part of it. Techno still is and remains the the world's best dance-as-weapon music. Techno has made the boundaries between underground and mainstream irrevocably redundant. But at the moment, it has to be careful not to be swallowed by itself or the world wide web.

With Kompakt you have played a massive role in the rise of minimal (even though that is not an adequate word to describe the range of stuff on the label or in German techno in the last decade), so you are well placed to talk about how things have changed….

With KOMPAKT, the "Factory" idea has become true, to live and work under one roof. KOMPAKT is the bastion fighting against the deprivation of music. KOMPAKT is glam rock manifest in a company.

To me, contrasting Gas and other mid-to-late Nineties German music with more recent music from Germany, if I had to pinpoint the nature of the shift, I would look at a change in the meaning of 'minimal': The word 'minimal', at one point, seemed suggestive of austerity and spirituality… whereas today I see the music as essentially secular and hedonistic…. Probably the same level of drug-taking is going on now as then; but I think the dance culture had a sense of a quest of some kind, a journey to some kind of beyond or transcendent grandeur which expressed itself through the rampant drug consumption and the combination of that with music that was meant to be overwhelming.. Today I think the culture is much more about pure sensuous pleasure. Minimalism now suggests something closer to good design, taste, attention to detail... What do you think of this notion? And how would you characteristic the directions pursued in German music from 1998 to now--techno & rave's second decade, basically? It's a big question I suppose, so feel free to be very brief!

Although I consider myself an explicit supporter of frenzy, excessive music experience – even under the influence of drugs – I would advise to have a break sometimes and go home to have your batteries recharged in order to avoid any kind of "burn-out"-syndrome or stagnation. Each hangover will be followed by a new flush. If I listen to what is classified under the hackneyed notion of minimal today, it seems even clearer that what I released in the context of minimal techno in the 1990s under the most different project titles PROFAN/STUDIO1/FREILAND) was much more experimental art than pill's music for DJs. The project FREILAND in particular, which still is really important to me, is a really good example for the "high art of leaving out" I was striving for at that time. Loop music, both at the same time, stoically-cool and electrifyingly-ecstatic and reduced to its essentials seems to be able to hold on and transcend time.

GAS is the cosmic brocade coat from another world that will wrap the naked rhythms again in a cosy, smooth dress made of gold and silver. Sometimes, minimal is very maximal.

1 comment:

Mr. Goldblog said...

Mr. Voight as the Poms like to say, really has it 'sorted'.

I wonder if Todd Haynes will colonise Mr.Voigt and techno with his post-Warhol-glam cinema wonder-wand like he did with 70s rock and Dylan.

Leave the money on the fridge for me on the way out when he does!