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Studio 1

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Album Review

Given the fairly narrow boundaries that define the style, it can be hard to put your finger on what makes one minimal techno artist annoying and another one fun. Whatever it is that makes it work, though, Wolfgang Voigt — aka Studio 1 — has it. His stage name, his album, and his label should not be confused with the legendary reggae label of the same name, although his music shares with vintage reggae a tendency toward wide-open sonic spaces and an often dark, brooding ambience. Detractors will point to the paucity of musical content in each track, not to mention the complete lack of anything like a chord progression and the glacial pace of change in both rhythm and texture. But aficionados will tell you that's exactly what they like about minimal techno — the emphasis on small textural developments leading you to listen more carefully than you might otherwise, combined with dance beats that are insistent but gentle and basslines that are fat and spacious. This disc is actually a collection of untitled 12" singles that were released individually over the course of the late '90s on various colored vinyls; for convenience, they're labeled by color in this compilation, which is actually a reissue of a previous compilation originally issued in 2000 and out of print since. The differences between the tracks are real but subtle: "Red" is a bit more energetic than either "Green" or "Yellow"; "Blue" communicates an actual sense of urgency; the backbeats on "Rose" are so tiny that they sound almost like glitches. A couple of tracks don't quite rise to the album's general standard: both "Orange" and "Light Blue" start out with interesting layers of slippery polyrhythms, but both end up being just a bit too minimalist and stretching out for just a little bit too long. Overall, though, this album is both a fine dance collection and an equally fine chillout soundtrack.

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s

One of Cologne artist Wolfgang Voigt's most celebrated aliases, Studio 1 is not so much a title but rather a series of ten influential records. Beginning with the Green record in 1995, Voigt began releasing one Studio 1 record after another, with each untitled record bearing only a different color to differentiate it from its predecessor. The records featured a unique style of ultra-minimal techno, characterized by a palette of bouncy beats at varying frequencies, intricately arranged into a spacious...
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