Arriving earlier than normal, today we’re treated to our annual pilgrimage to the land of Pop Ambient. Alongside some regulars and as usual, a couple of new entrants to the series, Pop Ambient 2015 is yet another aural treat that never fails to disappoint, blending just the right amount of stand-out tracks and background beauty to ensure a memorable, yet distinct edition.
Beginning with Thore Pfeiffer, a new, young talented producer from Germany, the Pop Ambient sound we’ve come to love is in full-force, with gentle bells, swathes of pads and that hypnotising looping that is such a big part of this series and the many producers that have adorned it.
Like a train-spotting jigsaw, Kompakt presents us with yet another guise in Dirk Leyers – for any fan of Kompakt in general, you may know him from his Closer Musik project (alongside Matias Aguayo). Here, Dirk lays down a contemplative, bleeping, yet soothing track that changes up the compilations style, ready for the more intense and classic ambient sound of Gregor Schwellenbach; slow, burning and calming.
Our friend, Leandro Fresco follows, with one of my personal favourites from the compilation. Darker than his Places Series release, Leandro’s poignantly plucked melody overlays an enveloping mist of rolling clouds. Translating to ‘Nothing is forever’, Nada Es Para Siempre is the kind of track you wish lasted a lifetime.
Max Wuerden “generates sounds from silence if necessary” and it shows with his microscopic and complex electronics amongst Container Love – a stark contrast to Ulf Lohmann’s following, with epic reverse strings and distorted vocals on Refresh.
Pop Ambient is also a time for ‘firsts’. And don’t quote me, but what follows may just be one of Brock Van Wey’s shortest tracks to date. Clocking in at 6.19, In White Pagodas, I’ll Wait For You, is no less epic than his usual umpteen minute masterpieces though. Classic Bvdub with swirling, echoin vocals and powerful washes, it’s like the angels have ascended before only darkness remains.
Jens Uwe-Beyer, known to many of us under the pseudonym of Popnoname, hits dark and hard with pounding walls of static and euphoric progression that wouldn’t be out of place on Raster-Noton alongside Alva Noto and Ryoji Ikeda’s mind-bending visuals.
Ending the compilation, and marking a return from the very first Pop Ambient edition in 2001, Gustavo Lamas closes out 2015 with the a light and accessible definition of Pop Ambient. It’s the perfect reminder of Kompakt’s ability to take you into the deep, dark and endearing tones of the genre, and bring you back out smiling. And unlike many of the series’ releases, 2015’s feels like a much more defined journey than the rest. With age comes confidence, and with confidence comes a willingness to break-out from the norm – a norm which Kompakt set in 2001 and continue to evolve to this day.
01. Thore Pfeiffer – Wie Es Euch GefäLlt
02. Thore Pfeiffer – Nero
03. Dirk Leyers – Daydreamer
04. Gregor Schwellenbach – Assperg
05. Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre
06. Max Wuerden – Container Love
07. Ulf Lohmann – Refresh
08. Bvdub – In White Pagodas I’ll Wait Foryou
09. Jens-Uwe Beyer – Moewen
10. Gustavo Lamas – Jovenes Ambient (Remake)
Available on Kompakt in all formats from November 3rd, including a limited edition LP with signed fine-art print. Pre-order available now.