May 27, 2009

Kompakt various artists - Pop Ambient series (2001-2009)

The Kompakt label was started in the late '90s by German haus-meister Wolfgang Voigt to release minimal tech-house-oriented material from the Cologne scene. The label presented an exciting new take on techno (and continues to do so today), utilizing abstract ambient sounds and experimental beats within a dance-music context. Frequently the 12"s from Kompakt would feature at least one or two beat-less ambient tracks delving into deeper abstract territory. Beginning in 2001, Kompakt began issuing CD and 2xLP compilations entitled "Pop Ambient" followed by the release year, focusing entirely on these short-form ambient pieces. The compilations made waves among both techno-heads and ambient fans, presenting a fusion of house-inspired melodic sequences and arpeggios, but stripped of dance-able rhythmic content. The tone is generally soothing and blissed out, with hardly any dissonance or noise, usually in a "loop ambient" style. Rather than 10+ minute drifting textures, the tracks are more "pop oriented", packaged in shorter 4-6 minute pieces, like ambient 7" edits or also reminiscent of some early Brian Eno works. Wolfgang Voigt makes appearances on many of the compilations under various aliases including All and Mint, continuing his ambient tradition from his Gas material, but often in a more tonal, melodic form. Dettinger and Ulf Lohman are also frequent contributors and originators of the Pop Ambient sound on their early Kompakt 12"s. Markus Guenter has become a well-known Kompakt artist with many 12"s and albums in both ambient and dance-able styles, and The Orb's Thomas Fehlmann is featured on several of the recent compilations. Finally, Jorg Burger shows up with gentle melodic tracks under the name Triola as well as collaborations with Voigt as Burger / Ink. A new compilation has been released at the end of each year, and each has maintained a high level of sonic quality and an excellent showcase for new electronic artists. This series sounds especially warm and beautiful on vinyl!