As a wise man once said on a podcast I enjoy, music discovery has never been easier. Sure, more music is being created now than ever before, thanks to the low barrier of entry for creation, production, and distribution. The content threatens to overwhelm us, clouding our vision and making it more difficult to discern what’s actually worthy of our time, energy, and finances. But if you’re at all interested in exploring music that’s new to you (no matter its chronological age), then you can certainly do so – as long as you have a jumping off point you trust.
Yet, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how I completely missed the music of GAS until 2018.
The nom de plume of Wolfgang Voigt, one of the principal owners of the Kompact record label, the artist has created 6 full-length albums, 2 EP’s, and 2 box sets across 23 years. Not only am I more than familiar with the greater aesthetic of Kompact, but my own personal journey as a music fan has been directly impacted by the sort of ambient electronic music GAS creates. I feel like I’ve let myself down as both a music discover and as someone who just enjoys good music.
Thanks to Rausch, I’ve been given the opportunity to correct that lapse in my knowledge. Across 7 tracks that clock in at an hour, GAS has crafted an electronic music experience that is undulating and deeply enrapturing. Designed to be consumed as a complete project, not on a track-by-track basis, GAS wove together layers upon layers of sounds and textures to evince a looming environment that just a wee bit claustrophobic.
A simple definition would be something akin to “eerie ambient soundscape in the vein of Reich,” but that sells short the emotional impact of this album. It strikes me as a postmodern symphony that is both unsettling and cinematic in both depth and scope, as if Vangelis was commissioned to score a Bertolt Brecht creation.
Early into Rausch, a single kick drum and snare enter to lay down the faintest of rhythms.
Technically, the project is 4/4 in terms of time signature, even though meter is but a tertiary element to this album. I found myself much more enthralled by the confluence of off-kilter horn bleats, synth swells, cymbal clangs, and atonal chord pulsed on washed out keyboards. There are no wasted movements here – no stray decisions and no flights of fancy. I found myself completely hooked, compelled to let these sounds and strains consume my ears and imagination completely.
Rausch a profound study in moods, modes, and timbre. Just like a slow-moving river in possession of a secretly powerful under-current that can drag you away without notice, GAS counters every inward turn to introspection with an equally arresting outward motion. The composition doesn’t let you sit still in your expectations of what ambient electronic music typically is.
Instead, it’s a master class in projecting measured nuance with the capacity to amaze if you give yourself permission to peek beneath the surface.
Burning with palpable tension and pulsing with an ominous verve found only in the best John Carpenter scores, Rausch is a powerful project that first captured my attention fully and then opened my eyes to a whole new spectrum of electronic music. And for a dude in his late 30’s with a kid, sometimes all I need when discovering a new-to-me artist is a sound that completely enthralls me, matched by a deep catalog I can dive into with abandon..
Despite all of the cliches you might have heard about the place, Adam P. Newton actually enjoys living in Texas – most of the time. He currently creates and curates content for a marketing agency, and in his limited free time, he writes a memoir about his journey through music called “Explaining Grownup Music to Kids.”