Gas (Mat Jarvis)

Gas (1995) is a remarkable work of ambient techno by Brit composer Mat Jarvis, originally released on the legendary and 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.

artist:
Gas (Mat Jarvis)

country of origin:
UK

style(s):
Ambient techno

decades active:
90's - 00's

essential releases:

  • Gas (1995, Emit/Microscopics.co.uk)

as High Skies:

  • Sounds Of Earth (2010, Microscopics.co.uk)

Reviewed by Mike G

Not to be confused with the German artist of the same name, Gas (1995) is a remarkable work of ambient techno by Brit composer Mat Jarvis, originally released on the legendary and 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 modern techno often talk about techno's soul, yet that very quality I've found lacking in much of the electronic music that falls under that category. The self-titled Gas, however, is very much the business, moving one reviewer in 1995 to call the album "the sound of machines crying". At the ambient end of the techno spectrum the Brits and Europeans - as well as a few American labels such as Silent Records and Instinct Ambient - lead an extraordinary wave of musical creativity in the early to mid 90's, parallel with the rise of modern dance music. This wave 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, Jarvis' 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.

Mat Jarvis nowadays intermittently records under the name High Skies and designs video game soundtracks. His lone High Skies album to date is called Sounds of Earth (2010) and it's a gorgeous, distinctive work of soft-edged bleepy spacemusic. Meanwhile, Jarvis has only one Gas album to his name and it seems that's how it will stay; an album upon which the Emit label carved its enviable reputation for innovation, quality and subtlety in ambient dance music. Don't miss it.

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