hen Michael Mayer released Immer in early 2002, it was hailed as an instant classic by critics and fans alike, acknowledged as one of the best entry points into the then-nascent genre of contemporary minimal techno. To that point, Immer (which translates to “always” in English) stood as the purest version of the Kompakt manifesto—one dedicated to treating tracks as songs, giving the music a more craft-oriented approach (rather than functioning as a set of DJ-tools) that fans of rock and pop could easily relate to, and showcasing the label’s family of artists and their evolution over time.
Immer focused on the nocturnal, melancholic vibe of Detroit techno and interlaced it with woozy, stripped-down dub house and the lingering aftermath of the millennial “clicks-n-cuts” movement. There was a sense of unity as well as harmony among all the artists chosen by Mayer, one of those rare times in dance music where it seems like everyone was on the same page, working to help improve each other.
Fast forward four-and-a-half years (an eternity as far as dance music is concerned) and Immer 2 arrives to not only a cluttered landscape of minimal techno, but to a world of expectations. And while Immer 2 isn’t as groundbreaking or surprising as the first edition, both editions share a strong sense of consistency, in both ideological and musical terms.
If a typical club night begins with a warm-up of idiosyncratic tunes, moves towards in-your-face intensity during the middle, and ends up with a fuzzy, ethereal haze, Immer 2 (just like its predecessor) is focused on those final, exhausted moments of the night, where one is perhaps more open to unguarded sentiment after the pummeling barrage of peak-time techno. After a long gestation period (over a year), Mayer selected 12 tracks that have been staples in his DJ sets for nearly as long. His approach was to select tracks that are more likely to stand the test of time, letting each track play out in full, only mixing at the final moment possible.
While one can’t vouch for every track here being a future classic, Mayer does have a way of picking the cream of the crop from producers that are constantly releasing new material. For instance, mix opener “Ploosh” by Someone Else is a grainy update of Chain Reaction dub which sounds unlike the majority of his voluminous catalog, “Morskaya” is one of the few times Russian duo SCSI-9 cast dark, sinking shadows in their music instead of just alluding to them, and the subtly seductive anthem “18 Years” by Crowdpleaser and St. Plomb has been perhaps the most heavily caned track from their 2006 album.
Immer 2 maintains the same strict uniformity in production style as its precursor, but there are a couple of surprises. Trevor’s “Strange Worlds” sounds like it fell from a hole in 2001, when minimal dub was strictly a Teutonic delicacy, while the appearance of nu-disco kingpins Todd Terje and Lindstrom (the former remixing the latter’s “Another Platform”) is perhaps the only cut that feels out of place, with a distinctly funky bassline that undercuts the ongoing noir-romanticism.
Immer 2 impresses most in its final three tracks, which lay forth an almost naïve sweetness—and a bit of well-earned weariness. Jesse Somfay’s “Lying in a Bed of Mist” evolves from a gritty percussion exercise into a starry-eyed teenage fantasy and leads almost too smoothly into the only vocal track on the mix, Sten’s remix of DK7’s “Where’s The Fun.” Despite a vocal that verges on Chris Martin at his most whimsically pensive, its placement at the end of the mix shows Mayer is willing to show a tenderness that most would be too cynical to take seriously. Its lightness sets up the closer, Geiger’s “Good Evening (Supermayer Remix),” a gently psychedelic epic of submerged dub house bookended by a host of nautical sounds.
Immer 2 is an outlier in its insistent shying away from the transient fads in contemporary dance music. But that’s why it’s a great example of the best aspects of the Kompakt sound: consistency, accessibility, and family. Those looking for the next big innovation in minimal dance music are likely to be a bit disappointed in Immer 2. But even though Mayer may be making a mix for a diminishing public, one that treats tracks as something worthy of worship instead of something to be consumed, mix CDs like Immer 2 are the ones people are more likely to remember ten years down the line.