Various Artists
Total 5

Kompakt
2003
B+

himmering melodies fading into the ether, only to return a moment later to pick you back up and send you sliding again, undercut by a single solitary voice cutting through: “All She/Wants Is.” The beat and the bass continue unabated. It's almost manic in its intensity, oblivious to the madness that surrounds it, the swirling densely packed confectionary casing of this glorious pop song. And it ends with that vocoded voice: “All She (left channel)/Wants Is (right channel)” and you realize that, yet again, that the artists forming the nexus around the Cologne micro-house scene have done it yet again. This, the fifth compilation of otherworldly Kompakt pop songs is just as good, if not better, than the first four- exhibiting the sense of quality control rarely seen by any label nearing its thirty full length CD release and with only a few slight mis-steps to its credit.


But before we go into the mysterious wonder of Kompakt’s ability to choose exactly the right tracks for each of its compilations- we’re thrust back into the mix by Superpitcher and a track entitled “Mushroom.” It starts as most productions from him do- a simple house beat, perfect for DJ sets, until the cut of the bass and the emergence of a heart bursting synth line. It’s Superpitcher’s unique ability to make the mundane epic, as evidenced by his superb remix of Dntel’s “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan.” But Schaufler isn’t merely content with this simplistic arrangement, as he adds an engaging water droplet-esque sound, having it drop in at regular intervals to provide both as a rhythmic and melodic element. The sound is at once completely disorienting and utterly devastating- giving the track the sort of feel that Kompakt is known for: comforting, yet always with an air of danger or menace just beneath the surface.


The same is true of Justus Koehncke’s entry into the compilation, as his light-hearted bass heavy tune begins to take on an eerie air with the introduction of flanged guitar and synths as it winds its way through its six minute length.


The two final tracks to the proceedings end the disc on a particularly strong note. Relatively new Dane producer Mikkel Meldgaard’s “Nepal” comes first, the B-side on his recently released newest 12” for the label. The track uses the shuffle rhythm that appears on the Schaffelfieber compilations and employs a rollicking bassline that reminds of T. Raumchmiere’s work (his contribution “Total” is passable, but nothing to get excited about), while Bering’s closer uses drums that remind of timpani’s. These tracks are the slow movers of the bunch, but reveal upon numerous listens the same sort of sonic ingenuity and attention of the rest of the tracks found here.


Once again, Kompakt offers up the goods. The only question that remains is when will this ever mutating genre of microhouse begin to lose steam? If this compilation is any indication, not very soon.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns

Reviewed on: 2003-09-01

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