VA: Pop Ambient 2006

The sixth chapter in Kompakt's Pop Ambient project perpetuates the series' aesthetic and generally high quality level and, if anything, is a step up from the fifth installment (marred by the lazy inclusion of an early Gas piece). Subtle shifts in personnel from one Pop Ambient release to the next do little to significantly alter the core concept, with all artists general hewing to a restrained ambient style.

Most of the material pretty much falls in line with one might expect: Pass Into Silence's “Iceblink” conjures peaceful placidity that recalls Eno's soft ambient side, the Klimek “Milk” remix deviates little from Sebastian Meissner's Milk & Honey style (though there's nothing terribly objectionable about that), and Triola offers a subdued hint of sparkling propulsion in “Tropfstein.” A moody portent underscores Markus Guentner & la Grande Illusion's “Baghira,” with simple piano and acoustic guitar motifs falling like gentle droplets on a gloomy afternoon; ponderous too is Andrew Thomas's mournful funeral music “M + K.” Dirk Leyers' “Come to Where I Go” is an altogether more vaporous affair, while The Orb's “Edelgrün” is more pop than ambient and jubilantly basks in a dubby rhythmic breeze. There is one surprise: how unusual to find a cover of Satie's “Gymnopedie #1” gracing a Kompakt release; to his credit, Klimek wisely chooses not to deviate radically from the original, adding only a discreet bit of digital noise to the song's sweet harp melodies.

April 2006