I know that this release has been out for a couple years now, but sometimes I find that when revisiting a release, I gain a whole new appreciation for it. That's definitely been the case for this album lately, so I felt the need to say a few words on it in hopes that someone else might discover the Gas sound. Burying himself under layers of pseudonyms, Gas is actually the work of Wolfgang Voigt, who is also known as Mike Ink. Releasing work in a variety of different electronic music genres (from his collaboration with Jorn Burger on Las Vegas to his goofy, dancefloor romp of "Polka Trax"), he's one of those musicians who's all over the place, but manages to keep the quality controls high on nearly everything.
If you haven't heard any work at all by Gas, it can possibly be called minimal drone techno. Those three words don't really seem to fit together, but somehow he makes it work by combining almost dancefloor BPM beats with layers and layers of strings, organic instruments, and just plain gauzy drone sounds. I once read that Ink sampled different Wagner pieces for tracks that he was working on as Gas, and although they're unrecognizable, those lovely, minor chord strings definitely do make an appearence more than once.
As with minimal music of nearly any kind, Mr. Voigt knows that you need time, sweet time to let things really sink in, and the six tracks on Königsforst run almost 65 minutes long, averaging out to well over 10 minute apiece. Also adding to the somewhat mysterious nature of the recording, none of the tracks are titled anywhere on the disc, so it basically works as a six part symphony or sorts. Opening with some droned-out layers of strings, a kick beat soon drops into place, giving things a heartbeat, while a low-end thud will give you a heart arrythmia if you play it too loud. Different textures come and go over the course of the track, but the 110 BPM is there nearly always, and it only changes when drifting into the second track (which ups the beat ever-so-slightly).
On this second track, more of those same nebulous (which is a good word to describe most of the dronescape sounds on the release) sounds weave and layer, while the plucks of what sounds like a harp drift into the mix every once in awhile. After the track drops out to pure ambient on the third track (no beat, just darker, shifting textures), the unobtrusive beat comes back at over 140 BPM for the fourth track, and the strains of harp make there way back as well. Because of some of the above, this is definitely not an album for the impatient. Sounds reiterate throughout the six tracks on the disc and themes are revisited in a variety of ways.
The challenge, then (although it really isn't such), is hearing the beauty of all the very subtle changes at work over the course of long release. Like the cover suggests, imagine walking into a sepia-toned forest, getting more and more surrounded by trees. Instead of feeling lost or scared, though, you embrace the lushness that's around you. That's a slightly hokey explanation, I know, but with music like this you're either going to embrace it or want nothing to do with it. Although his album Pop seems to be the favorite of nearly everyone who's heard his work under this moniker, in my mind Königsforst still holds a slight edge. Rich and textured, this album is the aural equivalent of a warm blanket.