Fifteen years after he laid the groundwork for German minimal techno, Wolfgang Voigt is suddenly a very busy man. Studio 1 is the latest of his projects to see a re-release on Kompakt, coming closely behind last summer’s Gas boxed set, Nah Und Fern. The Studio 1 disc has been out of print since 2000, and its magisterial influence on electronic music cannot be overemphasized.
Studio 1 (pronounced "Studio Eins" in German) is one of the multiple aliases of Voigt, the co-founder of Kompakt Records. In the mid-’90s, when trance and acid were ruling European dance floors, Voigt began producing minimal electronic music as Studio 1, released on a mock label of the same name. Over the course of a few years, he released ten 12-inch vinyl records, each wrapped in a different color with untitled tracks and no graphics. The releases carried a strict minimalist aesthetic, and their popularity led the founding of a record label in Cologne called Kompakt.
Each track on Studio 1 is an exercise in reductionism and repetition. Skeletal drums hold the beat while simple synth patterns build layers of rhythm around the percussion. The incandescent power exhibited here is heard on tracks by minimal techno scion Ricardo Villalobos and fellow Kompakt artist the Field, on his From Here We Go Sublime.
Most striking about Studio 1 is that it doesn’t sound old. Indeed, it could be 2008 just as easily as 1998. That these tracks so closely resemble today’s minimal techno is both proof of Studio 1‘s resonance and an indication of the genre’s slow pace of progress.
In the world of electronic music, the emphasis is on the future, and the past is often overshadowed. No one really knows where minimal techno is going, if anywhere at all. With this Studio 1 compilation, at least we know how it started.