The new label compilation from the Cologne techno consortium will hit shelves August 21st. Have they still got what it takes?
The covers of their records might be spotty, but the music of Cologne techno label Kompakt has been anything but since its inception in the late nineties. Nowadays their trademark sound has stretched its feelers into all manner of genres – if you're out at a techno night, a progressive night, even a house night, chances are you'll end up listening to Kompakt at some point.
But why go out when you can stay home? Kompakt knows its fanbase extends beyond DJs and 12” obsessives and they like to make ‘em happy by compiling their favorite cuts of the year, adding a dollop of exclusive tracks for the completists, and banging it out on in friendly CD format that ordinary folk can buy in their local emporium. The unmixed series is called ‘Total’ and in 2006 they’re up to number seven. Time flies.
Label comps get media attention, and with most non-dance rags still locked into the album format the CD draws eyeballs to artists that otherwise might be overlooked. Makes sense for a label like Kompakt, whose sound also appeals to home listeners, even non-dance music fans. RA wishes that more labels would do the same trick, if only for our wallet’s sake.
The release of the ‘Total’ comps is timed to coincide with the annual Kompakt bash in Cologne, Germany on August 25th. This regularity means that the Total series has also been received as somewhat of a bellwether of the state of the label. After greeting ‘Total’ volumes 2, 3 and 4 with paroxysms of delight, the learned druids of techno divined from 'Total 5' that the end was nigh for Cologne. But last year the 2CD ‘Total 6’ was seen as a return to form, so just how is ‘Total 7’ going to measure up? Have Kompakt lost it? RA takes a look at the tracklist and reads the tea leaves.
From the catalogue, the sometimes shaky minimal offshoot K2 is represented by ‘The Happy Monster’ from Hug, new kid Gui Boratto’s storming ‘Arquipelago’ [review] and the on-point Robert Babicz track ‘Sonntag’ [review], ignored but well-suited for home listening.
Elsewhere is the Wighnomy Brothers’ excellent rethink of the ambient track ‘Triola’, (Wighnomy beats + pads = goodness), their own weirdly original ‘Wombat’ from the Speicher series, Michael Mayer and Superpitcher’s trancey take on Boratto’s 'Like You' [review] and the shimmery pasted pop of The Field’s ’Over the Ice’ [review] which will deservedly find a wider audience.
Of the unreleased cuts RA can say less, with newies by regulars DJ Koze, Thomas Fehlmann from The Orb, and The Modernist alongside Justus Köhncke and Dirk Leyers' yet-to-be-fully-realised space disco project Kontrast.
Especially promising are two of the rarer appearances, one cut by mysterious Kompakt guru Wolfgang Voigt as Wassermann, and one track by erstwhile Kompakt shopkeeper Jürgen Paape, whose previous outing ‘So Weit Wie Noch Nie’ came out way back in 2002 but is still one of RA’s favorite Kompakt tracks ever.
Not spotty at all then? Full tracklist of Total 7:
1 – Kontrast ‘Grey Skies’
2 – Triola ‘Polarzipper’ (Wighnomy Bros remix)
3 – Gui Boratto ‘Arquipelago’
4 – Justus Köhncke ‘Love and Dancing’
5 – Thomas/Mayer ‘Sweet Harmony’
6 – The Modernist ‘Pearly Spencer’
7 – SCSI 9 ‘When She Said Goodbye’
8 – Superpitcher ‘Tonite’
9 – DJ Koze ‘Getreidephunk’
10 – Wighnomy Bros ‘Wombat’
11 – Mikkel Metal ‘Ulyt’
12 – The Rice Twins ‘For Penny and Alexander’
1 – Gui Boratto ‘Like You’ (Supermayer remix)
2 – Wassermann ‘In Tyrannis 2006’
3 – Robert Babicz ‘Sonntag’
4 – Steadycam ‘Knock-Kneed’
5 – Jurgen Paape ‘Take That’
6 – Hug ‘The Happy Monster’
7 – Axel Bartsch ‘Redlight’
8 – Reinhard Voigt ‘Tranceformation’
9 – Thomas Fehlmann ‘Saft’
10 – The Field ‘Over the Ice’
11 – Oxia ‘Domino’
12 – Jonas Bering ‘Melanie’
The 2CD ‘Total 7’ will be released on August 21st. And as always there’ll be an abridged vinyl version for DJs who don’t like to lug heavy 12”s but hanker to spin best-of-Kompakt.