'Total 8' is inevitably a hit and miss affair, CD2 yielding most of the hit matter in a stripped-down club style. Kompakt co-founder Jürgen Paape brings classic stalking and stabbing Cologne techno restraint to 'Nord', while Robert Babicz’ remix of label star Gui Boratto’s 'Mr Decay' bounces with the kind of irrepressibly groovy micro-twitches you’d expect from Spanish producers such as Alex Under. Geiger’s shape-shifting reinterpretation of Supermayer’s 'Two Of Us' is included as a foretaste of Michael Mayer and Superpitcher’s soon to be released album, while Ewan Pearson and Al Usher’s 'Trauermusik' release from the start of the year proves they have a knack for merging the European sound with elements of deep house and disco. It's a little too polite maybe, but it's perfectly formed for Sunday afternoon sets.
Oddly, despite the success of 'From Here We Go Sublime', The Field is absent, the label’s acclaimed shift into gently sombre emotional terrain represented instead by The Rice Twins. 'Can I Say' already pegs them as potential crossover darlings with its elegant rethink of trance’s cruder emotional touch points. Amongst the record’s less inspiring moments, Aril Brikha’s overrated tribute to Berlin’s great techno shrine 'Berghain' is wheeled out again, but a more fitting tribute to the drama and dynamics of that legendary dancefloor comes from DJ Koze’s wonderful 'Mariposa'. Building through quietly intense swathes of noise that merge the functional drone of machines with the unexpected melodies they might sing as they work, it comes on like a symphony of engines learning to take their first graceful flight. Hear it in Berghain and you might fall over.
'Total 8' would certainly be a better record if it trimmed the flab, but eight years in, the format looks set in stone. We’ll permit the odd excess if it secures a more daring approach to the label’s future, releasing records in a world in which ‘minimal’ finds itself at home in sets played by DJs as diverse as Diplo and Hot Chip. With the Supermayer album ready to bend the rules a little more in coming weeks, the label’s next steps suggest they won’t be treading water anytime soon.