Speed Reading

Wolfgang Voigt -- Gas and The Book of Lists: Horror
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WOLFGANG VOIGT — GAS

By Wolfgang Voigt

Raster-Noton

128 pages with CD

$46.49

One of many noms de guerre of Kompakt Records founder Wolfgang Voigt, Gas represented the vanguard of a techno-ambient hybrid that flourished throughout the 1990s. The cryptic methodologies of Stockhausen, the operatic pretensions of Wagner, and the libidinal energies of Deleuze were bandied about in this subculture of citation and pastiche. The result was an interdisciplinary flourishing of art beyond the strict borders of musical formatting into mixed media.

Voigt's newest release — a book of photographs taken throughout the forests surrounding his native Cologne — is finally gaining international renown for the record boss, composer, and aesthete. The book is a cousin to the landmark Nah und Fern box set released earlier this year by Kompakt. As with Nah und Fern, Voigt's photography centers on the forest and the sky — potent artistic and political signifiers of nature in the German psyche.

"Gas is Hansel and Gretel on acid ... a seemingly endless march through the under woods — and into the discotheque — of an imaginary, nebulous forest," Voigt has said. In reality, Voigt's images are much less jejune or ambulatory than such a quote might imply. The dense forest tableaux combine the beauty of Lee Friedlander's desert brambles with the sinister fluorescent emulsions of Warhol's "Death and Disaster" series. The ingress of techné that — through serial repetition and fractals — dominates these images in turn triggers a surreal aura: the natural and mechanical blend effortlessly in Voigt's lens. To say these representations of the magic forests of Germany are disturbing is an understatement. But they are also meditative and inspiring. (Erik Morse)

THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR

By Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley

Harper Paperbacks

432 pages

$14.95

Calling The Book of Lists: Horror a reference book seems a bit unfair, if only because that designation makes it sound like something you don't read front-to-back — something that probably doesn't have a section titled "Eli Roth's Ten Nastiest Horror Movie Genital Mutilations." Roth's ouchfest is only one of the many such lists the book offers in its five sections. Film and literature receive special attention, but other horrific areas don't go ignored. The result is a playful, comprehensive, and immensely readable work. Seasoned horror gurus will appreciate veteran list guru David Wallechinsky's annotated look at a half-dozen overlooked horror films, while anyone who's not too sensitive can enjoy "James Gunn's Nineteen Favorite Reason God Made Humans So Squishy."

Authors and editors Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley have attracted an impressive array of talent to make contributions: Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and a posthumous Johnny Ramone all make appearances, and most have something interesting to say. With so many lists, not all can be as entertaining as "Davey Johnson's Account of the Involuntary Reactions of Ten Dates to Ten Horror Movie Moments." But since the format allows for plenty of skipping around, misguided entries can be easily avoided. If there's one real complaint to be levied against The Book of Lists: Horror, it's that the visual content is underwhelming. Images should certainly accompany lists like "Steve Niles's Top Twenty Horror Comic Covers." Sure, you'd have to lose some text, but it's like they always say — one picture of disembowelment is worth a thousand words. (Louis Peitzman)