Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gas (Mat Jarvis)


Not to be confused with the German artist also known as Gas, this remarkable work of ambient techno by Brit composer Mat Jarvis was originally released on the legendary but now-defunct Emit Records. When re-released by Jarvis on his own label ten tears later the album sounded no less strange or beautiful; it has truly earned its classic status in the electronic underground.

Aficionados of techno often talk about techno's soul, yet that very quality I've often found lacking in most of the electronic music that came out of the genre's birthplace of Detroit USA in the 1980's and 90's. Gas, on the other hand, is very much the business, moving one reviewer to call it "the sound of machines crying". In fact, at the ambient end of the techno spectrum the Brits and Europeans rode an extraordinary wave of creativity in the early to mid 90's. This was defined most famously by the "electronic listening music" of Warp Records' short-lived Artificial Intelligence series. While Gas would have fitted well enough with the Warp/A.I. aesthetic, the album really does inhabit a world of its own. It's melodic yet abstract, mechanical yet lush; alien yet intimate. I've never heard machines sound so alive while still sounding so clearly like machines. Is this the sound of Isaac Asimov's more human-than-human robots let loose in a recording studio? A notion for sci-fi fans to ponder, perhaps.

Now recording under the name High Skies, this seminal release remains Jarvis' only Gas album to date and one upon which Emit carved its enviable reputation for innovation, quality and subtlety. Don't miss it.

Gas on Myspace

Source: Ambient Music Guide


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