GAS aka Wolfgang Voigt is considered a pioneer of the minimal techno scene. However, with over 30 aliases and 160 albums under his belt, his most notable is his ambient project GAS and his landmark work, Pop.
Pop details the sound of the forest with ethereal hypnotic soundscapes accompanied by rustling trees and gentle streams. The work is truly mesmerizing. Voigt said in an interview with Discogs ‘GAS draws you into this very deep and dense atmosphere, which causes a huge fascination from a lot of people far beyond the world of techno music’. Voigt combines the blissful meditative atmospheres inspired by the works of Brian Eno and Biosphere with the subtle dub techno beats inspired by Aphex Twin and Autechre tying the aesthetic together with the natural and spiritual environment of the forest.
The work opens with the cut Pop 1, this introduces a manipulated orchestral atmosphere that takes on a subtly rhythmic form using natural field recordings of water layered with granular pad voices as if symbolic to the soul and spirit of the forest. Pop 2 is very similar taking on a similar form with a more melancholic vibe transitioning into the next track. Pop 3 takes on a stormy setting with rain and wind rushing over to symbolise the change in aesthetic when the storm comes, and the forest becomes less angelic and more infernal. This leads to my personal favourite track, Pop 4. This track to me symbolises the return of the sun creating a humid atmosphere where the rain falls yet the sun shines through creating a truly beautiful scene. This is where we can see the influence of dub techno. The layering succeeds to be dense but simple, on face value the arrangement sounds straightforward yet on every listen I find a new rhythm or instrument. Pop 5 is where I think the pacing of the album falls short. It becomes a lot stiller and sorrowful to calm from the upbeat tempo of Pop 4. Pop 6 creates a distorted atmosphere clearly inspired by the energy of underground rave. Pop 7 continues the atmosphere of Pop 6 and adds the dub techno rhythm of Pop 4 creating a driving melancholic ambience and functions as a great closer to the album.
This work continues to be one of my favourite ambient works due to its stunning representation of nature. Nevertheless, the hypnotic nature of the work will become may become tiresome for listeners not accustomed to repetitive genres. However, cut like Pop 4 I think has the potential for mainstream appeal for its excellence and listenability.