Rating: 7.5 / Format: CD / Label: Kompakt
Kompakt’s Total 9 was a gift to anyone who fancied themselves as a blogger theorist eager to issue a commentary on the downfall, Saddam Hussein statue-style, of minimal. A rumination on the soft-focus, boompty-boompt impulses of deep house, it made explicit a nascent trend that had been sloshing around the sweatboxes. This time around, ten Totals in, the cross-section of the label’s output seems broader; less bound to fashion’s vicissitudes. From the stuttering, deceptively brutalist Thomas Fehlmann remix of The Field’s ‘The More That I Do’, to the playful syncopations of Burger and Voigt’s ‘Wand Aus Klang’, there’s a surfeit of innovation here.
If the nature of compilations means there’s a few misfires – not even the dullest of architects needs DJ Koze’s sanitised ’40 Love’, and Jurgen Paape’s oompah monster ‘Ofterschwang’ is little more than in-jokey nonsense – when it does find its sweet spot it restores your faith in 4/4. Two fine examples of this are Gui Borrato’s ‘No Turning Back’, here in a Wighnomy Brothers-mixed incarnation, which is shot through with Robag Whrume trademarks – electromagnetic low end oomph, buzzsaw oscillations counteracted by subtle, billowing pads.
Likewise, Supermayer’s remix of Gotye’s ‘Heart’s a Mess’ is a beautifully crafted schaffel epic which floats on the edge of existence due to its lightness of touch – the chimes, filmic orchestral touches and brittle vocal all threatening, but not necessarily delivering, exquisitely-crafted euphoria. Even the glossy sentimentalism of Ada’s ‘Lovestoned’ has a way of sparking up the most dried up serotonin receptors with its lush chord progressions and piston percussion. It may seem a long time since Kompakt’s glory days of the Immer releases but Total 10 goes out of its way to showcase the skewed pop sensibility and nose for originality that has made, and kept, the label so essential.