Review: Well, it's that time of year again when one of electronic music's finest labels presents another sonic soiree. Cologne powerhouse Kompakt serves up the 21st installment in their esteemed Total series featuring some the year's greatest hits and near misses, from their own roster and external artists but all curated in its distinct aesthetic throughout. Label staples such as Jurgen Paape appear with the balmy summer allure of "La Guitarra Romantica", label co-head Michael Mayer with the entrancing dancefloor drama of "Happy" and of course Voigt & Voigt on the paranoid afterhours minimal house of "Nicht Mein Job". Elsewhere, there's the ever reliable John Tejada making the mandatory appearance with the chilled contemplative beats of "Spectral Progressions", the always impressive Jonathan Kaspar being the label's best sound ambassador on the the deep techno epic "Von Draussen", the return of Gui Borrato on the glassy-eyed and bittersweet pop-inflections of "Wake Up" and newcomer Nicky Elisabeth with "Celeste" - which gets a slinky and hypnotic rework by the legend Roman Fluegel.
Review: After a string of releases on Ouie and Kompakt, Jonathan Kaspar makes his debut on Cocoon. This is an expertly executed EP that draws on the legacy of German trance, minimal and techno to deliver a really distinctive set of tracks. "Last Romance" is an unusual track that brings together glitchy percussion and majestic synth sweeps. However, instead of going for the jugular, Kaspar keeps the tempo down to create an alluring, infectious track. This theme continues on "Off The Shore"; set to a mid-pace, it allows Kaspar the opportunity to drop a teased out arrangement that is full of subtle sound effects and deft percussive twists and turns. Of course this being Cocoon, there is also a dance floor focus, and this comes on the title track, where Kaspar drops a simmering, moody slice of tranced out techno that will prove irresistible to DJs.
Review: Jonathan Kaspar, the resident of Cologne's Gewoelbe Club, has fast become a staple of hometown imprint Kompakt where he's brought an evocative style of dancefloor drama across several EPs. Much like his previous outing (the Kante EP) this latest release by Kaspar is right in line with the label's sound, faithfully recreating snapshots of their many phases over the years. The mesmerising "Muster" with its minimal acid chug, harks back to the label's output at the turn of the millenium, while the brooding atmosphere of "Alle" makes for perfect mood music during those heads down moments in the club - in typical Kompakt fashion. There are also two featured versions of "Beton"; the main one is a bouncy yet subtle tech house groove underpinned with clipped rhythm programming - the latter aspect playing centre stage on the Strip Down version.
Review: Most labels and collectives are challenged to last a decade in electronic music's fleeting landscape, but so far Kompakt has endured for twice this lifespan. This is largely due to the fact that the Cologne operation boasts a tightly-knit group of artists who continue to release on its many labels. For the twentieth edition of the annual Total compilation series, many of those producers come correct; Robag Wruhme and founder Michael Mayer both deliver ponderous deep techno tracks, while Jurgen Paape goes even farther, veering into guitar-spangled melancholia on "Vox Acris". This introspective mood seeps through to more overt dance floor tracks, with Sascha Funke's eerie "Atze" and Voigt & Voigt's "Schopper Da Leu" delivering understated but impactful results.
Review: Cologne institution Kompakt looks to its own doorstep for their next release, presenting a stellar EP by esteemed local producer Jonathan Kaspar. The Gewoelbe Club resident serves up four expressions of advanced house music on the Kante EP, providing sublime dancefloor narratives that perfectly sum up the Koelsch label's aesthetic: deep, atmospheric and absolutely evocative. From the electric futurism of "Kern" with its complex rhythm arrangements, to the epic dancefloor drama of "Zentrum" that's sure to create tension and suspense when that breakdown hits - this one will blend well with similar vibes on Innervisions or Exit Strategy. Not to mention the dark carnival vibe of the title track, with its crazy melodic bassline - we are really feeling Kaspar's singular sound at the moment.
Review: Cologne powerhouse Kompakt have continually defined a unique aesthetic as label - deep, atmospheric and absolutely evocative. For the 19th edition of their revered Total series - The Voigt Brothers & Co. curate another splendid compilation featuring the very best in international electronic music from the last year, taking in a wide variety of styles, tempos moods and grooves - yet all with the label's distinct taste. Highlights (and there's many!) came courtesy of: local Gewolbe Club resident Jonathan Kaspar with the mesmerising dancefloor drama of "Renard", label co-founders Tobias Thomas & Michael mayer teaming up on the sexy lo-slung groove antics of "Total Anders", label staple and all round Berlin legend Sascha Funke delivers a typically quirky and oddball groove on "Aus Der Lamang". Elsewhere, you can get your tunnel vision on with the ever reliable Rex The Dog on "Vortex", the ascendant Anii from Poland takes you deep into the rainforest on the tribal trance of "Ride The Tiger" and ANNA from Brazil provides some dystopian narratives for the dancefloor on "Remembrance".
Review: It can be a tricky task keeping up with Pets Recordings jam-packed release schedule. That's why the imprint's "My Favourite Pets" compilation series, which gathers together brilliant bits from the catalogue you may have missed, is essential listening. Volume six is naturally full to bursting with tried-and-tested treats from Catz 'N' Dogz excellent imprint. Highlights are plentiful throughout, of course, but our favourites include Kassian's exclusive rework of recent Catz 'N' Dogs single "Wave" (a bumpin' chunk of peak-time brilliance), the exotic dancefloor hypnotism of Sei A's fine remix of "This Time" by Adam Port and Jennifer Touch, the low-slung sleaze of Jonathan Kaspar's "Cicatrice", the classic West Coast deep house bump of Beesmunt Soundsystem's "Searchin (Borrowed Identity Remix)" and the mid-tempo Balearic house beauty of Kamp's "Azure".
Review: Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus has described Spirits, the label's new annual compilation series, as "a fresh psychedelic journey into the mind". While that might be over-egging the (Christmas) pudding a bit, there's definitely a deep, humid and occasionally hallucinatory feel to many of the showcased tracks, which mostly sit somewhere between lucid deep house and skewed tech-house wonkiness. Wisely, Lazarus has chosen tracks from new and rising stars of his various labels, with highlights coming from the likes of Magit Cacoon (the bass-heavy, Innervisions-esque "Nonsense"), Raw District (the foreboding last night hypnotism of "Another Way", featuring folksy vocalist Alice Rose) and Nico Stajan and David Mayer, whose brilliant "Killing Your Lover" layers an eyes-closed Jan Blomqvist vocal over dense but groovy tribal drums.
Review: The Nu Breed series was conceived back in the early 00s as a means of showcasing upcoming DJs of that era, such as Danny Howells and Lee Burridge. Now that the series has re-launched, the same concept applies and the latest DJ to feature is German spinner Oliver Schories. With a focus on deep, emotional house music, he weaves an intoxicating path that moves from the slurred vocals of Rico Puestel's "Volute" and the melancholic piano keys of Black Light Smoke's "Fire in My Head" into driving, techy tracks like Jamie Trench's "It Never Stops" and Oliver Deutschmann's hypnotic minimalism, "Control", before climaxing with Chateau Flight's sprawling remake of AtJazz's "It's Complete". Here's to the next generation of new breed DJs.