Besides his aesthetic sensibility and prodigious work ethic, one of Wolfgang Voigt's greatest strengths as a producer is his ability to make powerful statements. As the recent re-release and reassessment of his towering, elegiac Gas project has shown, the workhorse of Cologne techno can flesh out theoretical ideas on a grand canvas without overlooking craft and composition.
He can also, obviously, carve and reduce music down to its essence, and his Studio 1 (Studio Eins) project, an array of vinyl singles released in the mid-'90s, may be one of his masterworks. This collection, differentiated by its Pantone-esque range of colored cover art, has since proven to be as much a musical framework as it is a sonic palette. Showcasing a crisp take on techno and a dub-inspired investigation of space, these tracks' grooves are present in the DNA of many subsequent recordings. Out-of-print in album format since 2000, these releases' collective reputation as a blueprint for minimal techno places them squarely at a locus in music history. But they still sound charged and vital, and within their set framework and margins, present a spectrum of sounds and ideas conveyed without fuss or excess.
Coming on the heels of many of Voigt's acid-inspired Mike Ink releases, the Studio 1 works are immediate—piercing lines instead of broad strokes. They may be reductive, but their clever arrangements showcase a range of textural tension and movement, especially in the shifting, often bulbous low-end. "Yellow" creates a throbbing urgency from the interplay of clicking melodies and a muscular swirl of a bassline. "Orange" shimmers with static and a tinny hi-hat as sludgy, liquid tones reverberate. The slightly dissonant, string-like stabs and revolving bassline of "Gold," one of the later releases, prefaces some of the more dissociative, claustrophobic takes on techno. During an interview last year, Voigt described his Gas project as "hypnotic." While it's much more stripped-down, Studio 1 often evokes the same feeling, illustrating a wholly different method of drawing in listeners.
07. Light Blue