Various – Kompakt Total 8 – [Album]

Monday, 10 September 2007

Yes, the double disc. Long the subject of great musical controversy and many a late-night beard-scratching debate, the double record is either an artist's magnum opus or their bloated excess. However, if there is one thing that can be agreed upon by both sides, it is that these dubious discs are connected by a unique kinship. Undoubtedly, it is this: "You know, man, this would have been way better as one record." Surely every double player has endured this criticism and, at last, we come to Kompakt Total 8 where that criticism will be levied yet again.

The Kompakt Total series has long been the gateway drug into a seemingly never-ending addiction of Teutonic 12-inches. For this reviewer, the compilation hit its golden age on Total 4 and Total 5. Notably, Total 5 was the last single-disc release. Considering my longtime admiration of this label's output, imagine my anticipation when I see many of the original Kompakt stalwarts in tow in one form or another: Jurgen Paape, Jorg Burger, Reinhard Voigt, Jonas Bering (one half of Nightcats on this comp), Superpitcher, Justus Kohnchke and of course the main man himself Michael Mayer. Maybe it's a Euro v. American thing, but the most successful Kompakt tracks for me are always the more heady instrumental rippers. I can usually do without the vocals. The first disc finds Superpitcher, Partial Arts, and Thomas/Mayer turning in some of that vintage Kompakt action. Deep, Teutonic pop grooves—undeniably danceable—and just as well-suited to nodding your head in daydream. The Rice Twins close out the first disc with an appropriately dreamy Kaito-esque epic.

The second disc starts strong. Herve Ak sets the stage with a minimal cruiser that slowly evolves into a hazy bed of synth pads. DJ Koze follows Herve's lead and ratchets up the vibe into some blessed-out territory. Other standouts on disc two are Jurgen Paape's massive tense groove "Nord," Guy Boratto's neu-disco stomp on "Mr. Decay," Justus Konhncke's dream pop on "Pickpockets" and Oxia's fuzzy disc closer "Not Sure."

The hardest part in any artistic endeavor is deciding what to leave out. In the case of Kompakt Total 8, separating all the vocal tracks from the traum musik would have probably made for 2 solid releases instead of one ambivalent release. In today's world of endless options and media overload, what we need more of is skilled editing and tasteful selection. What we need more of is less.

Kompakt Total 8 is out now.

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