Tobias Thomas / Kaito
Please Please Please / Contact to the Spirits
C / B+
obias Thomas’ Smallville was one of the most compelling bedsit mixes to grace any label’s catalogue, let alone one as venerated as Kompakt. The 12-minute opening gambit that pit Dntel up against Erlend Øye and Kaito invited you in slowly and then Thomas dropped the hammer for a stirring mix that didn’t let up until the final measure.
Thomas tries the same trick on his newest mix, Please Please Please, however, and it basically falls flat on its face. Lacking the propulsion that Dntel and Kaito provided, Pantha du Prince’s aptly named “Butterfly Girl (Pantha Lost The Beat Version)” does nothing, like a limp version of Kompakt’s pop ambient fave Klimek, to advance things. Like Superpitcher’s Today mix, for example, the emphasis is on the creation of a distinct mood. But here Thomas is too busy crafting to see the dancers looking back at him from the floor. No wonder this was mixed live—in an empty dance club in Cologne.
You certainly can’t begrudge him for it. Thomas has always embraced a little bit of nothing in his mixes, but in the past that “nothing” has been in the service of something. On Please Please Please it’s (literally) twenty minutes of standing in place, waiting for the beat to drop on Johannes Heil’s “Aquarius.” After which things don’t get much better: the increase in BPM’s during “My Favourite Dress” is amateur at best and Brant’s “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (Ada Mix)” is just one more example of why electronic musicians should leave the Smiths alone once and for all.
One can understand why Thomas wants to look outside the Kompakt family for new sounds (although in the case of Please Please Please he certainly doesn’t look far enough), but sometimes it’s just as important to look back. Neo-trance mainstay Kaito does just that on Contact to the Spirits, which acts as a sort of greatest hits from some of the label’s most recognizable names. Jonas Bering, Dettinger, Michael Mayer, DJ Koze, Superpitcher, and Closer Musik all make appearances on the mix, each easily bringing to mind why we liked this label in the first place.
The mood is nostalgic and instructive at the same time. Contact is a Japan-only disc that one assumes is acting as some sort of “Introduction to Kompakt” for fans in that country that missed out on the early Total compilations. And while the mixing isn’t phenomenal, the pace (none of the 19 tracks are played for much past four minutes) and selection (Jonas Bering’s “Before Sunset,” Michael Mayer’s “X,” Justus Kohncke’s “Advance (Prins Thomas Diskotek Miks),” and more) are. Which doesn’t even mention the sterling mash-up of Jurgen Paape’s “Nord,” Closer Musik’s “One Two Three (No Gravity),” and Ferenc’s “Nitsa Is 11.” An all-Kompakt mix! Who knew?
Reviewed by: Nina Phillips
Reviewed on: 2007-08-24