The Gasman – Controlled Hallucination (Onomatopoeia Records)

The Gasman – Controlled Hallucination (Onomatopoeia Records)

The very notion of IDM is to devalue everything that came before it, and Controlled Hallucination is a throwback to this period of exponential growth in the post-rave landscape, as publications like Mixmag sought validation of the new genre in the face of the Criminal Justice Bill. Portsmouth’s electronic auteur The Gasman attempts to exploit a missing link between the two eras. Even the title is a nod to the dippy student ramblings of the era. But that’s ok, dance music evolves like mountains, inch by inch with only occasional seismic shifts and Controlled Hallucination is very much of a time when the pills were still good. To this end the producer often favours upbeat, high-pitch and trancey effects with synthetic beats, nary an organic module in earshot. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of tectonic lift or occasional tsunamis of sound. ‘Rotorn’’s muffled but manic synths wouldn’t sit as comfortably back then as they do now while ‘Tic 3000’ is a genuinely challenging extension of deep house. There are only occasional samples like those favoured by the likes of Plaid and Boards of Canada, and no added vocals anywhere, our creator preferring the full gamut of synthesized sounds instead.

Incredibly, since signing to Planet Mu in 2003 this is The Gasman’s nineteenth album and his second for Onomatopoeia Records, after 2016’s 80s-inflected Aeriform, and it is perhaps the logical progression from that record. Spread across four sides and sixteen tracks, this release continues the skittering beats and themes of restlessness although side B, in particular, is noticeably more ambient, with only occasional darker interludes (‘Retention’’s disjointed runout certainly has no place in a chill-out room while ‘Cessation’ stops just short of Future Sound of London territory, but is still two-minutes of beatless euphoria). There are also periods of unexpected chin-stroking experimentation. ‘Wizards Sleeve’ is piano led, the beat only coming in at the five-minute mark and again pushing the boundaries of what can be classed as house music.

However, with musical deviations such as a church organ track that hardly dips into the IDM discipline at all, it’s difficult to tell if these are wilful transgressions or half-realised neo-classical ideas. In fact the second half of this record relies too much on Jean Michel Jarre influenced keyboard flourishes extended to five minutes and beyond, albeit in nuanced retro futurism, that conjure a man in a lab coat hunched over a vintage Yamaha a la Tomorrow’s World. Ironically the tried and tested formulas work best on Controlled Hallucination so the textbook arpeggios of ‘Torse Low’, motorik trance of ‘Anti Notice’ and the title track’s ascending peaks are still highlights and well worth investing the time to give Controlled Hallucination a listen.

Controlled Hallucination is out on 9th November through Onomatopoeia Records.

  1. I haven’t read the article. The writer lost me after “The very notion of IDM is to devalue everything that came before it”.

    NO NO NO NO. As all but the cloth-eared and pretentious know, music is good in proportion to it’s simplicity and to-the-pointness. Emotion above intellect.

    This is why the Troggs and Stooges were total genius and all prog is utter shit.

    Dance music came along, and the early stuff was to the point. Steve “Silk” Hurley’s “Jack Your Body” springs to mind. Maurice Joshua’s “I got a big dick”. Obviously such simplicity requires an intelligence much higher than necessary to create complex music – anyone can use too many notes.

    IDM was / is a genre that is not without the odd decent track, but the moment you combine the word “intelligent” with popular music you are immediately pigeonholing your music as of very little value, and in total contrast the first half of the first sentence that I bothered reading, you are placing your music at the bottom of the pile and devaluing it massively (and rightly) and not devaluing what came before.

  2. It was great cerebral/dance crossover music to begin with, but then it got named, after then people play to the name.. Ultimately pushing the music straight down the narrow route of cerebral.. Completely missing the embodied aspects.. and then the predictable dilution, and endlessly derivative works. Stuck to a limited map, missing the infinite territory.a bit Like narrow formulaic dance music,.

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