Narkopop is the latest album by Ambient producer Gas (Wolfgang Voigt). He recorded most of his discography with Gas in the late 90’s and this is his first LP in 17 years. I hadn’t heard of him until now but apparently he’s quite critically acclaimed. His sound on this album is quite massive and exploratory, he’s fond of hiding small samples in the sea of ambient noise, as well as frequently using repetitive drum beats. Voigt cites his LSD trips in the forest as his main inspiration for Gas, and it’s easy to see. The drum beats and constant flow of ambient noise creates a big hypnotic feeling. The atmosphere is creepy, yet inviting and comforting too. Someone described it like a techno concert that’s playing at the edge of town, you can barely make out the beat and some of the melodies, and that description is an apt comparison.
All the songs on the album are untitled, but each has it’s own flavor and feeling. Narkopop 1 & 2 are dark and brooding, with a nonstop drumbeat and heavy string synths. Narkopop 3 features nearly no drum beat in it at all, and it’s just immensely soothing. It’s got the most white noise on the album, but the deep and distant synths are what drive this track along. Narkopop 5 has some disturbing mechanical sounding samples in it, seemingly growing louder and louder. My favorite moments on the album happen in Narkopop 6, that song is just so massive but also contains some poignant piano notes played very gently and quietly. The closer Narkopop 10 is a massive 17 minute long track that takes the entrancing sounds to another level. I can’t decide if this is a “headphone album” that you need to experience while paying attention to the smallest of details or something to play on your speakers and let it fill the room.
I don’t listen to ambient that much, and if I listen to too much it all starts to blur together, but Narkopop‘s variation in sound keeps it from that. The album in full is over 70 minutes long, and might seem a bit much, but it’s just gorgeous from start to finish. It’s gotten me to check out Gas’s earlier works, even though like I said I don’t seek out Ambient music that much. On this rare occasion I decided to check this out, I was rewarded immensily, and I hope you give it a shot too.