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  Pop Ambient 2004  
  various artists  
  Kompakt Records  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

Another year, another excellent compilation from Germany's Kompakt Records. This is the fourth release in this ongoing series, and it maintains the high standards one has come to expect. This is a compilation of beautiful, mellow music, largely created electronically. It is good music for sitting around and just listening. It is not too challenging, but it has a variety that staves off boredom.

There are only 9 tracks here, but a few of them standout from the crowd, in some way or another.. Let me describe the moments that i have enjoyed most in listening to this compilation.

Ulf Lohmann's track Audrey is a light abstract collection of samples surrounded by a keyboard drone that is reminiscent of The Orb classic O.O.B.E.. Ral by Triola is a keyboard driven tune that sounds almost sci-fi at times. Andrew Thomas' Fearsome Jewel takes a light piano melody and glitches it up on the computer, resulting in an interesting, low key song.

Those are the mid-range tunes: they are decent, but not spectacular. There are, however, two tunes on this compilation that really impress me.

The first is called Sakura and is by Pass Into Silence. The song is constructed out of a series of loops that fade in and out. The backbone of the song is a slow and sparse piano riff that plods along slowly and contentedly. Eventually it is joined by a more frenetic synth melody that loops around hurredly for a while, before fading away. The piano plods along for a while, then the synth melody loops back in. Repeat as necessary. A simple and normal structure for an electronic song, but it really works because the combination of the two melodies creates an exciting contrast. On the surface it is a minimal, simple tune. But that extra melody just adds a blast of excitement. Stunning really. I will look for more from Pass Into Silence.

The other noteworthy track is the compilation's closer, To Thee This Night (I Will No Requiem Raise) by Donnacha Costello. This is ambient, although not electronic. That is, this is a mellow post-rock tune that at times sounds like Godspeed and at other times reminds me of The Potomac Accord or American Analog Set (in their calmer moments). It is a nice, vaguely mournful, long (almost 12 minutes) tune mostly built out of light guitar riffs. It is well done, and it fits in with the overall tone of the album. In fact, i find that it is the perfect closer to the album. When it finishes, the album seems to have come to it's logical conclusion.

Overall, this is a very nice compilation of good listening music. Kompakt has done it again, and i am already looking forward to next year's compilation.

Related Links:

last year's Pop Ambient 2003 collection


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