Annual label compilations are somewhat of a risky undertaking. On the one hand, if the compilations are consistently good (as Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series was from about 2001 until 2007), then all you’re doing is showcasing talent and marketing your label in a beneficial way. Alternatively, if the compilations are consistently bad, then you’re doing the complete opposite: highlighting how horrible your label is, and revealing just how deluded you are by continuing to release horrible compilations.
Fortunately for Kompakt, the latter editions of Pop Ambient haven’t been horrible — I’m not going that far — but were instead relatively uninspired, presenting a contrast with earlier editions. Has Pop Ambient settled into a comfortable niche characterized by pleasant-sounding, though not altogether memorable, ambient music?
Although it won’t be released until January 21, the tracklist for Pop Ambient 2013 offers some reasons to be enthusiastic. Argentine keyboardist Leandro Fresco renews a relationship with Kompakt that began with the release of Amor Internacional in 2002, and Michael Mayer, co-founder of the label, makes his first appearance ever on the series through a Wolfgang Voigt mix of “Sully,” the opening track from Mayer’s 2012 album Mantasy. Followers of the Pop Ambient series will also appreciate contributions from Wolfgang Voigt himself, dub techno artist Mikkel Metal, and Marsen Jules, who must be doing some serious favors to earn a spot on four of the last six editions.
I’m actually kind of excited for this. Don’t let us (me) down, Kompakt.
Pop Ambient 2013 tracklisting:
01. Leandro Fresco, “Cuando El Sol Grita La Manaña”
02. Michael Mayer, “Sully (Wolfgang Voigt Mix)”
03. Jens-Uwe Beyer, “Deutz Air 2”
04. Triola, “Jean Vigo”
05. Marsen Jules, “Point of No Return”
06. Mikkel Metal, “Recombination”
07. Anton Kubikov, “Ambianopolis”
08. Wolfgang Voigt, “Rückverzauberung 7”
09. Leandro Fresco, “El Cruce Imposible”
10. Terrapin, “Cirrus Minor”
• Kompakt: http://www.kompakt.fm