VA: Pop Ambient 2007

Kompakt's Pop Ambient series makes its annual showing with the 2007 model. The concept—contemplative ambient settings so hypnotically deep one could drown in them—remains unchanged though not the mix of contributors: in addition to series veterans Markus Guentner, Gas, Triola, Ulf Lohmann, and Klimek, new names like The Field and Popnoname appear.

The always-reliable Guentner swells orchestral waves into surging masses on “Altocomulus Opacus” while “Nach 1912” weds Wolfgang Voigt's trademark Gas propulsion with cavernous orchestral resonance; it's captivating to hear his strings rise and fall over the driving mass below, and how the miniscule clicks and flute-like whorls ride the wave too. Subtle hints of dub and schaffel also work their way into Thomas Fehlmann's otherwise hazy “Next to the Field,” and, given the entrancing character of Les Fleurs and Herbstlaub, it's surprising that “Ou la nostalgie habite” represents Marsen Jules' maiden Pop Ambient appearance rather than his third or fourth.

The collection isn't flawless: The Field's “Kappsta” is a two-tiered set of repeatedly looped voices that's hypnotic, yes, but exasperating in its repetitiveness too, and Klimek's “Ruined in a Day (Buenos Aires)” is a decent example of shuddering guitar ambiance but it's wholly indistinguishable from the pieces on the Milk & Honey and Music to Fall Asleep full-lengths (in Sebastian Meissner's defense, the same criticism could be levied against Gas and Marsen Jules too). In short, those enamoured of the previous chapters will have no trouble cozying up to this one either, but those anticipating an even modest evolution in direction or style shouldn't get their hopes up.

December 2006