But Muting the Noise isn't a traditional ambient comp in the mold of Kompakt's standard-bearer Pop Ambient series. Sure, some material aims straight for broadsheet wallpapering; both I:Cube's "Nuées Ardentes" and "Tokyo Black Star's "Kagura" mine the sort of modestly pleasant hush and flicker that leads many to write ambient off as music for the inattentive, and Japanese artist Koss' "Negai" isn't so much chilly as frozen-stiff. But beyond including material by several of the label's popular producers, much of the compilation sounds tailored for the imprint, invoking its flair for widescreen detour not via deep house but through a distinct conceptual enlarging of the moodpiece. Henrik Schwarz's "Arthur" is an adventurous clip of bumpy brokejazz, a bright smear of sub-bass, hand drums, gongs, and morning-radio piano. Stefan Goldmann's "Life After Death" centers its busted-clock sounds and blurry, time-snap textures on disorientation and pulls it off nimbly, while Kammerflimmer Kollektief's "That's How the Light Gets In" nails the wandering soul folk Finland's Fonal label has long mastered.
When Muting the Noise hums away in more modular ambience the results are still effective, if not as enveloping as some of its odder pieces. After the thinning chimes of appropriately-titled opener "Sentience" by Mark Pritchard and David Brinkworth, Karma's "Kon Tiki" speaks up for the comp's Tokyo-born shimmer, mixing bell-tones and plucked harp strings into the kind of mesmerism Susumu Yokota's created in the past. Co-label runner Âme's own contribution, "Doldrums," is one of the best on display, blurring the line between comfortably close and far-removed as its plinging bells give way to a mournful, shady-tree synth.
But it's electronic music pioneer and former Tangerine Dream/Ash Ra Tempel member Klaus Schulze who produces the longest and most subtly arresting piece with the eighteen-minute synthesizer glaze of "Invisible Musik." A slow chutes-and-ladders glide arranged around arpeggiated synth and dense keyboard washes, it seems to grow fat and wide unnoticed, like a sapling you stop really seeing before suddenly it's stretched across the yard. Schulze filters in line after line of mannered melody without ever shifting his honeyed speed, a fitting closer for a compilation that hopefully won't be the last in this promising new line.
Sun / 31 Aug 2008
01. Mark Pritchard & David Brinkworth - Sentience
02. Karma - Kon Tiki
03. Âme - Doldrums
04. Henrik Schwarz - Arthur
05. I:Cube - Nuées Ardentes
06. Tokyo Black Star - Kagura
07. Stefan Goldmann - Life After Death
08. Terre Thaemlitz - Get In And Drive
09. Kammerflimmer Kollektief - That's How The Light Gets In
10. Koss - Negai
11. Klaus Schulze - Invisible Musik