VA: Schaffelfieber 2

Kompakt fans are lucky to be able to count on annual summer installments of the Total series and winter updates in the Pop Ambient series. Add to that distinguished list the Schaffelfieber series, now offering the second in what presumably will be an annual event. Of course, the distinguishing feature is the Schaffel rhythm—the dotted quarter and eighth shuffle—which adds a swaying feel to the conventional techno rhythm and serves as a common springboard for the comp's eleven tracks, much as the Total artists use a straight 4/4 to build upon. What's fascinating is to witness the endlessly inventive permutations for both rhythms the artists generate in what at least seems to be effortless fashion. While the Pop Ambient comps do differentiate themselves wholly from the others, there are occasional overlaps between the Total and Schaffelfieber series. Wolfgang Voigt's Freiland track “Frei” on Total 4, for example, uses the shuffle beat, while Voigt's Wasserman cut “Strasser” or Mikkel Metal's “Hemper” could just as easily have been included on a Total release. What's also fascinating is how the Kompakt sound is so immediately and inimitably captured in these grooves. In spite of their differences, every one of these tracks exudes a similarly clean and tasty synth-laden, minimalistic sheen that so indelibly defines the label's Cologne sound. It takes only a few moments of Wighnomy Bros. + Robag Wruhme's “Bodyrock” to know that one is once again in familiar Kompakt territory. Schaffelfieber 2 does, however, differ from its Total cousin in one respect. The Total series is now more song- and vocal-based in comparison to its first volumes and especially Köln Kompakt which initiated the compilations. Schaffelfieber 2 by comparison is rather more like Köln Kompakt in that both feature instrumental tracks of a more locked groove-like nature. Node 1's “State Zero,” for example, is an eight-minute stomper ideally tailored for the dance club, as is Superpitcher's “To Turn You On.” Other cuts stand out too. The Orb isn't the first group that springs to mind at the words 'Cologne techno' but the group fits in just fine with “Cool Harbour,” a slightly more orchestral and instrumentally expansive take on the Schaffel beat. The most memorable track, however, is T. Raumschmiere's “Dream.Baby” mix of Komeit's “3 Hours,” largely due to the irresistible hook of the vocal intonation 'We could come here again without pain' set against shuffling synths and subtle clicks'n'cuts rhythm touches. Similarly, SCSI-9's “All She Wants Is (Wighnomy Bros. mix)” stands out because of the interplay of vocal lines and synths laid on top of the chugging shuffle beat. Mikkel Metal closes out the recording with “Hemper,” a lovely chill-out coda of reverberant synth clusters. Admittedly, Schaffelfieber 2 isn't quite up to the standard of the Total series, perhaps because the emphasis on run-on grooves renders the tracks less distinct and because some tracks in the seven- and eight-minute range would be more effective if trimmed slightly. Perhaps these minor flaws will be corrected when Schaffelfieber 3 appears next year, as we might confidently presume it will, based upon Kompakt's reliable release schedule.

September 2003