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Kompakt Compilation
Total Vol. 9 David Stubbs , August 26th, 2008 13:32

Kompakt - Total Vol. 9

Germany's Kompakt label has been disseminating numerous prismatic variations on the minimal Techno template for over 15 years now, under the aegis of founder Manfred Voigt, whose 90s Gas albums, recently rereleased, are an overarching inspiration.

This two disc collection is typical of the label, ranging from functional, linear, deep house to the sublimely eccentric. The second disc is the "straighter" of the pair, ploughing a pretty straight sequencer furrow much of the time - Dubshape's ‘Droplets’ is satisfyingly sleek, if generic. The ever-excellent Gui Boratto, however, picks things up with ‘Annuciacion’, all eddying sheets of synth, decaying piano and turbo bass. Kaito injects an aerodynamic boost with the echo-soaked, upholstered beats of ‘Everlasting Dub’, while Scsi-9's "Another Day Acid" is frictionlessness epitomised.

Disc one is more diverse, both more and less successful. Justus Kohnke's ‘Thanks For The Add’ is a superb opener, heavy with a dub that sees it drag just behind the beat. DJ Koze's ‘Zouzou’ features processed, Eastern chimes, a hint of orientalism which recurs throughout this collection. Jurgen Paape's ‘Come Into My Life’, dark, heavy and granular, is Kompakt in excelsis, while Supermayer's ‘Hey Hotties’ survives its awful title with its clipped, bassy reminiscences of A Certain Ration and imported early 1980s US funk.

Superpitcher's ‘Disko (You Don't Care)’ mines the same period and genre, dicing and reassembling the yield for 21st century consumption. Moments of slightly miscalculated Matthew Dear-style pop/rock jauntiness hamper the disc - generally, the vocals don't work - but order is soon restored by Thomas Fehlmann, who started musical life with early 1980s German new wavers Palais Schaumburg before going on to collaborate with The Orb.

His ‘With Wings’ adds distinct colour to Kompakt's sometimes monochrome tendencies, steeped in a dub bromide which throbs turquoise and red by turns. Finally, it’s Burger and Voigt himself who combine for one of the collection's standout tracks, ‘Wand Aus Klang’, whose insistent, mid-tempo beat makes a picaresque, wistful journey across extensive sound terrain which reminds of earlier Krautrockers such as Harmonia and Faust. Old minimal Techno hands have complained recently that the genre is caught in a bit of a rut right now, but if this is a return to old ideas, it's an undiminished one, and a good starting point for those new to Kompakt's roster.