Wolfgang Voigt 'Gas' Book and CD (Raster-Noton, 2008)

Steering way clear of any general rave culture associations of "Techno," Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project is a remarkable breath of fresh air in the often butchered, crowded and over-produced genre. I'm definitely no expert when it comes to beats, as I've only been able to come to terms with the idea of actually liking this stuff in the last 6 months or so. But discovering projects like Muslimgauze, Seefeel, Oval, Alva Noto, The Field, Gas (and others on the Kompakt label) has inched the floodgates of my mind a little bit more open.

Honestly, I keep coming back to those 4 Gas albums, each time discovering some new underlying texture to get lost in. Voigt has this remarkable ability to create looong looping soundscapes that are somehow both very repetitive yet never stagnant, a true wizard of the subtle shift. Sometimes the tracks are pure ambient beat less washes of elegiac strings, while other times the tracks rest upon a throbbing pulse, providing a backbone to these free-floating movements, the beat always active but rarely leaving the comfort of the background.

And thus, with what was a surge of Voigt related reissued material, came this book + cd released by Raster-Noton, a stunning collection of photos by Voigt accompanied by 5 tracks from the early Gas years, 4 of which were never previously released. Overall, these tracks are of lesser calibre than the proper albums. Lesser Gas, however, is still better than most things. Voigt's photos are stunning, and work so well when considering the music. Like the music, the images are simple yet striking in their texture-I like to think of them as the visual extension of the music. Experiencing these simultaneously is like linking up matching puzzle pieces and then realizing that it's only a two piece puzzle. When entering Voigt's visual world reality gets skewed, and the dimensions of the conscious and subconscious are blurred, beginning and end lose all meaning and one falls into a hypnagogic* state of being. And it's obvious that some thought went into the layout of the book, as only the last quarter of the photo's are in colour. And after seeing 3/4 of the book in b/w the sudden shift to colour makes the photos seem all that more vivid. The blues, reds, oranges and greens seem to bleed from the page, a toxic blood, that might stain your fingers if you hold them on the page for too long. I'm tempted now to visit the forests of Cologne just to look up and see the same overlapping leaves and branches that Voigt saw. I would go there just to walk around aimlessly in and amongst the brush, clasping my hands around tree bark and squinting my eyes at the light passing through the forest canopy. Maybe then and only then would I begin to truly appreciate this work for what it is.

*Thank you David Keenan of The Wire

Purchase at Raster-Noton


Pact 1:LOW @ 221A Artists Run Centre

Empress: Low Level Listening
- perpetual music for found objects


Empress Plays The Speculative Frontier @ Little Mountain Studios 08.06.09

Came and went. No sounds were captured but I can report that it was a successful night of both interestingly bizarre and hypnotic film, a remarkable set of surface scraped percussion by Jeffrey Allport and looped, decayed and manipulated record crackle (Hotel California by The Eagles) by yours truly. Thank you Dan Kibke for the photos.

I might be playing the first Pact at the 221a artist run centre on Georgia Street Friday night (Aug 14). I'll post something tomorrow if I decide to submit. The theme is low. If you are an artist you should think about entering something, as work is submitted and prepared for presentation the day prior to the show, so you still have time.


Tarab 'Take All The Ships From The Harbour And Sail Them Straight Into Hell' (23five 014) 2009 | Jason Kahn 'Vanishing Point' (23five 015) 2009

I can only hope that this post will propel me back into the blog world as I've been taking advantage of the glorious weather as of the last couple months: swimming, camping, hiking, and well basically getting as far away from a computer as possible. I did however acquire a new camera (finally my own camera to blog with) and computer and now feel as though all that fresh air has given me a refreshed musical perspective. Oh ya, and tons of new Empress material recorded that you'll hear more about really soon. So here's to what's been an incredible summer.

'Take All The Ships From The Harbour And Sail Them Straight Into Hell'
(23five 014) 2009
CD - Edition of 500

Junk, dirt, dust, scratching things, found things, decay. This is the Australian based Eamon Sprod's third album, the follow up to 'wind keeps even dust away' also released by 23five in 2007. It seems Sprod has come a long way since then as somehow his music has become even sparser and even more focused. The focus seems to lie more in the urban landscape and not the rural like his last effort. Less flaking branch bark and flickering fires, more rusted metal scrapes (!) and mass rejected commercial detritus. Though there are moments of what could only be the result of isolated nature walks. I love this man's work. It's so peaceful and completely mind enveloping and he always seems to capture many different worlds of sound, as if he's taking us on a journey to all his favourite adolescent stomping grounds, but we get to experiencing it through years of wear and tear. Eventually, a windswept drone fills the spaces between the scrapes, blurring and dulling the sharp edges. Very nice. For fans of anything to do with the the tactile or discarded. Organum, Coelacanth, Small Cruel Party.


Jason Kahn
'Vanishing Point'
(23five 015) 2009
CD - Edition of 500

I got to see Jason Kahn perform live at Activating the Medium in 2008 during a really memorable Californian weekend get away. His set was the highlight of the night for me and after hearing about this publication on 23five I started to get excited about the man's work again. I got to say though, I wasn't expecting this. 'Vanishing Point' is probably the best thing I've heard this year. Equal parts subtle shifting percussive tonalities and Gossamer static (Some kind of aircraft?) + hissing field recordings. The album can seem both a flurry of sonic activity and a static nothingness. Rattling metals bubble up from the void as the static evaporates, giving way to lusher tonalities and a helicopter-blade-like sputter. Finally with only 7 minutes to spare, a short circuited wire spurts and fizzes atop the now docile drone. To think it all started as such a cacophony. Brilliant.

Listen to long samples of both of these on the 23five website and buy them.