Something interesting is going down in Germany.
I don't know what, but recently i have heard a flood of interesting
mostly electronic music pouring out of Deutschland. (See: Mouse
On Mars, Christian Kleine, The Notwist.) Kompact is a label
based in Köln, and apparently they annually release an
album in this Pop Ambient series.
In all honesty, i am only aware of this release because it
contains a new Orb track. However, i am glad i checked it out.
This is a fine sampler containing 10 tracks from 8 different
acts. Chances are you, like me, have not heard of 7 of these
acts before. For the most part, this is interesting, mellow
electronica in the radically different German school.
And what i mean is that even though the rhythms are bizarre
and obviously cut and pasted, the overall sound is lush, rich
and alive. Not cold and mechanical like British (see the latest
releases by Autechre or Aphex Twin) or American (see Electric
Birds or Kid 606) come across. Consider Alltag 5 by All.
The drum beat here is positiviely epileptic, stuttering, stopping,
restarting, and gyrating all over the place. It is so mangled
it defies my ability to count the rhythm. 12/14 maybe? But,
on top of this is a nice keyboard drone and some light fuzzy
sample. The overall effect is inviting, not off-putting. I want
to comfort the beat as it has it's spasms, not run screaming
in terror. A nice effect, and a generally wierd song.
Express Yourself by Markus Guentner is perhaps the most
organic song on the album. It sounds like old school New Age,
or the stuff you hear on Hearts of Space. Really
lush synthesizer sweeps that swell, gradually, and combine with
one another over the bare minumum of rhythm. It's a nice meditative
tune, if you like that sort of thing.
Another great ambient track is (Sun)Rise by Klimek.
This act has two tracks on the compilation, and this is the
better of the two. It is very Mouse On Mars influenced: it is
built out of acoustic guitar strumming that has been heavily
processed in the computer, creating a light flowing track with
odd rhythms. A fine example of this kind of work.
MY favorite on the disc is Nicht Die Welt by Ulf Lohmann.
This is one long, echoey keyboard drone, with a lovely melody
and wierd laptop noises in the background. It almost sounds
like muzak -- it's so smooth and light and relaxing, and the
melody is so good that i keep trying to imagine what the cheesey
words to the song would be. This might not sound like a recommendation,
but it is. It's a lovely and utterly inoffensive little tune.
But i know what you're thinking: what about the new Orb track?
How is it?
Well, it's called Dilmun and it is, well, not spectacular.
Not bad, but not great either. It's a nice tune built out of
stuttering keyboards, and really shows Thomas Fehlmann's influence
on the current Orb sound. On the whole, it is middle of the
road for The Orb, and not the best track on this disc by far.
Overall, this is a nice sampler. It contains a few noteworthy
tracks, and is generally quiet and pleasant. If you are curious
to hear some of the current wave of German electronica, then
this is a good starting place.