Various Artists
Total 6


t’s very easy to ask, “Hey, how’s Kompakt doing?” with the arrival each year of their heavily tipped Total compilations. Lovingly crafted from their vinyl singles throughout the previous year, exclusive tracks, and upcoming releases, it’s an easy glimpse into the best work of the myriad artists that are now recording under the Kompakt roof. It’s a far cry from the label’s inaugural compilations, which saw a few songs being licensed from other labels to fill out the tracklisting. These days, however, the label has enough artists to warrant a two-disc collection of strictly Kompakt tunes.

Accordingly, while the music is always house based, there is a relative smorgasbord of sound to feast on over the compilation’s two-and-a-half hours. The disco side of things is brought to the fore by Justus Köhncke’s “Krieg,” The Modernist’s “The International Loner,” and the unexpected return of Jürgen Paape and his gorgeous tune, “Cream.” Looking for trance? Probably not, but both Kaito and The MFA provide just-hip-enough versions of the much maligned genre to make you wonder whether you might be missing something after all. And the hot electro-house sound of the moment? Rex the Dog’s first appearance on CD, “I Look Into Mid-Air,” Peter Grummich’s “Frozen World,” and the Mayer/Aguayo cover of Kylie’s “Slow” should fit the bill nicely.

Which, you know, doesn’t even begin to describe the mind-melding Michael Mayer remix of long-forgotten indie band Baxendale’s “I Built This City,” which coils the song slowly, only to release it in a climactic rush of falsetto vocals and shooting star synths. Or Superpitcher’s borrowing of an Aaliyah moan for his exclusive, “Tell Me About It.” Or The Field’s roiling Four Top’s cut-up, “Action.” Hell, even Jonas Bering proves his worth, crafting his first interesting track in ages with “Glass,” trading in his usual faceless techno for wavering wind chimes and a restlessly bouncy beat.

There are, of course, duds. Heib’s “Phoenix” gets a bit too interested in its own opening salvo of sound to bother to develop it much, Kaito’s “Hundred Million Lightyears” is hardly his best work (this may have something to do with the fact that the track is only six minutes, as opposed to his usual twelve), and Mikkel Metal sounds like it might have been better suited to a Pop Ambient compilation, especially slotted in between The MFA and Paape.

So, the answer to the earlier question is, “Quite well, thank you.” With nearly the entire stable of artists contributing, Total 6 is as much celebration as last year’s Kompakt 100 and is, frankly, a much more consistent look into the label’s endlessly diverse ways of tweaking house music’s conventions. If, for some reason, you’re still on the fence about buying an entire CD, let alone two, of dance music, Total 6 might just be the place to start. At a smidgen over the price for one full-length CD at most discerning retailers, there’s no reason not to.

Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2005-08-19
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