Tag Archive: kompakt

LWE Podcast 171: Thomas Fehlmann

LWE reached out to ask Fehlmann about how he and Patterson work together, what it was like working with reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry, and how it felt being back on stage with some of his old Palais Schaumburg members after nearly 30 years. He also treated us to an hour of some of his most recent musical purchases, a supreme mix of house and techno that makes up our 171st exclusive podcast.

LWE Interviews John Tejada

LWE spoke with John Tejada to find out more about his frequent collaborations, the quality control mechanisms of this prolific producer, and how his new live show finds him reworking parts of his back catalog.

Justus Köhncke, Timecode Remixe

Both remixes of Justus Köhncke’s “Timecode” by Tyree Cooper and Axel Boman feel more urgent than the original, although neither changes the script too much.

Robag Wruhme, Donnerkuppel

Those who expected Wruhme’s last single of 2011, Donnerkuppel, to trundle down a similarly easy going path as his album were in for a big (albeit pleasant) surprise.

DOTW: Michael Mayer, That’s What I Told Sanchez

This week’s download marks the return of Kompakt impresario and superstar DJ, Michael Mayer, to solo production.

LWE reviews Speaking In Code

For many Americans, most electronic dance music lacks the overt personality they demand from music, as it carries on without an obvious beginning or ending and can be reduced to an easy to mock “oontz oontz oontz.” Aware of this popular perception, Amy Grill placed the focus of her documentary, Speaking In Code, on contemporary artists and important figures in techno and house scenes rather than examining their history or the finer points of sub-genres. Early on, Grill (who narrates the film) states that her hope is to rehabilitate electronic dance music in Americans’ eyes. But given the difficulty of their task, it’s easy to forgive them for doing more to contrast the tribulations of passionate American techno fans with the wealth of choices and opportunities open to artists and their fans across Europe.

Various Artists, Pop Ambient 2010

Seasons come, seasons go, and with them Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series, where the label’s clockwork ticks much slower than usual. Not that Pop Ambient’s reliability has never been in question: every time a new installment filters through the opinion-maze of web- and music criticism, someone proclaims it’s not as good as the last one, or the series’ key idea is petering out, or maybe Kompakt should stick to making IKEA techno, or that it’s too much of the same thing, or whatever. Regardless of the occasional arcs in quality (I seem to recall 2006 to 2008 not grabbing my attention quite so strongly), the complaints are a tad confusing. Surely Pop Ambient’s brief is to be “too much of the same thing,” to essay myriad variations on that lovingly hazy, gaseous, oddly catchy, plastic ambient sound they’ve perfected, to take a relatively long time to say relatively the same thing at pretty much exactly the same time of year?

Various Artists, Total 10

It’s astonishing to think Kompakt is a mere ten years old. The shadow they have cast over the contemporary house and techno scene, not least through their distribution, never mind label releases, is gigantic. For younger DJs and fans, it’s hard to think of a world without the dotted imprint. Their Total series is a case in point: a summer without the compilation and accompanying party is difficult to contemplate. For casual fans, the CD issue offers the opportunity to catch up on the year’s hits, while the double, and now triple vinyl packs satisfy DJs with exclusives cuts and some venerable smashes of their own (Superpitcher’s “Mushroom,” DJ Koze’s “Mariposa,” and Jürgen Paape’s “So Weit Wie Noch Nie” for starters). They also illustrate the broad taste of the Kompakt collective, with tracks ranging from campy electro pop (Justus Köhncke, most likely) to teeth-grindingly hard techno (step forward Reinhard Voigt). This eclecticism is both Kompakt’s greatest strength and their weakness. Their determined and democratic stance that if any one of the label heads (Michael Mayer, Paape and Wolfgang Voigt) likes a track enough they will release it, means occasionally real stinkers can slip through the door that ruin things for everyone. Throughout Total 10, the suspicion that this hardly stringent quality control is set to an all time low is hard to shift. When Total 10 is bad, it is very bad. And when it is good, it is still far from producing any classics to rival those listed above.

Ada, Adaptations Mixtape #1

Back in 2004, Ada’s Blondie was the go-to album to persuade your girlfriend or boyfriend that techno really was “okay.” Borrowing from pop-house veterans Everything But The Girl (via a cover of “Each and Everyone”) and indie-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs (“Maps”), Michaela Dippel broke out of the Cologne techno ghetto to achieve crossover critical, if not commercial, success. That’s not to say that she left behind her Rhineland roots — every one of Ada’s solo releases has been on a hometown label; and with frequent remixes from the cream of the Kompakt label, it was inevitable that one day she would release on the venerable imprint. Her music is a perfect fit for Kompakt with it’s emphasis on somehow euphoric and melancholic melodies, pastel-coloured but chunky bass-lines and cute pop-culture references. It’s a move that should ensure her the wider audience she deserves, and, as the title intimates, Adaptations Mixtape #1 is intended as an introduction from a trusted friend, but it’s a shame it’s such a collection of warmed-over odds and ends.

Jörg Burger, Polyform 2

[K2] After eight years of relative silence, Jörg Burger returned to releasing music under his own name in 2007. His work as The Modernist, Stardiver, Triola Echo Club and many remixes flowed from the techno/ambient/trance legend’s Cologne residence over the last years, so that time was hardly idly spent. In addition to the tepidly-received “Bring […]