Review: Take a wander over the storied discography of Egytian producer Raxon and you'll find a most intriguing career. Across 10 years Raxon has graduated with flying colours on labels like Ellum Audio, Drumcode and Truesoul to Diynamic Music and Audiojack's Gruuv - and intriguingly still is his contribution to Kompakt Extra. This seems to have paved the way for Raxon's debut album - Sound Of Mind - which sees the artist throw down a gauntlet of industrialised, melodic, minimal and electrified sounds. With detuned vocal effects across the LP reflecting a classic Richie Hawtin context, Raxon combines the heavy vamp of a bassline in "El Multiverse" next to some downtempo warehouse beats in "Majestic" alongside skippier rhythms and euphoric melodies in "Journey Mode". A super fresh debut album from a most trusted artist that adds to not only Kompakt's legacy but his own.
Review: Following up last year's excellent Frame Digging EP which just so happened to make our best of 2020 lists, New York-based producer Steve Moore of Zombi and Gianni Rossi and Lovelock fame returns to Cologne powerhouse Kompakt with the Auto Sequence Start EP. The title track with its emotive and high tech soul overtones is in the same league as legends like John Beltran or Neil Ollivierra, while the restrained dancefloor drama of "Assemblers" with its epic chord progression builds the tension and suspense just nicely before that massive drop. The glassy eyed and bittersweet ambience of "Shining Rainbow" closes it out.
Review: Ascendant DJ/producer Nicky Elisabeth has already left her mark on the Dutch scene, with a residency at Amsterdam's club De Marktkantine where she also runs her concept party called OPAL. She makes her big label debut here, in vibrant fashion, for Cologne institution Kompakt with the pulsating and strobe-lit drama of "Celeste". There's no doubt that this one will induce you into a trance on the dancefloor. It is backed up by the slinky and hypnotic mood music of "Say" that features her angelic vocals atop, further adding to its mesmerising touch. Also some terrific remixes from veteran German producers coming as part of the package: Roman Fluegel takes "Celeste" into adrenalised territory with his direct and punchy perspective, while Robag Wruhme of The Wighnomy Brothers fame goes deeper, naturally, taking "Say" into typically glassy-eyed and bittersweet realms.
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: Living Dead is John Tejada's fourth album on Kompakt and was written and produced during lockdown. The title is a reference to the strange circumstances that we have all lived under this past year, but despite this the tone isn't overly introspective. In fact, while there are melancholic elements - including glitchy tracks like "Eidolon" and "The Haunting of Earth" - the overall mood is uplifting. "Echoes of Life" sees the veteran producer deliver a haunting deep techno groove, while "Abbot of Burton" is a wonderfully frazzled minimal groove. Meanwhile, "Panacea" is a typical Tejada affair, with stripped back rhythms and sub-bass supporting charming melodic sequences.
Review: Orlando Voorn has been putting out techno for almost 30 years, but the passage of time has not had an impact on the quality of his output. 2020 saw him release a slew of high-quality Eps and a great artist album; this year looks set to see a similar work rate, and Internal Destination opens his 2021 account in style. It starts with the woozy, deep tones and shuffling drums of "Stuck In My Ways", while on the title track, Voorn drops a melodic, wiry groove, an ode to the Detroit techno influence that looms large on his work. Changing tact again, the veteran producer drops the break beats and tripped out synths of "Ride The Wave".
Review: British musician Lake Turner (aka Andrew Halford) previously made music in post-punk and indie groups such as Great Eskimo Hoax and Trophy Wife. He was introduced to the Kompakt family by his sometime collaborator Yannis Philippakis of Foals. The lush 'ambient-disco-techno dreams' of his new album 'Videosphere' were constructed and completed in his London studio and at his parents' sheep farm in Worcestershire - which added to the LP's serene atmospherics. The first single taken from the album here is "Outland", a driving and energetic expression in deep house that is equal parts ethereal and hypnotic, and absolutely in line with Kompakt's distinct sound aesthetic.
Review: For their eight studio album, Danish three-piece Whomadewho have decided to call on the production and mixing talents of an impressive array of friends and like-minded contemporaries. As a result, Sychronicity is a pleasingly eclectic affair full to bursting with tracks that blend their usual punk-funk and jazz-influenced sounds with the trademark styles of their invited collaborators. This results in some genuinely inspired and ear-catching cuts, including Mano Le Tough hook-up 'Oblivion' (think Radiohead meets Italo-influenced synth-pop and tech-tinged deep house), some low-slung disco-punk mayhem made alongside the Adana Twins ('Shadow of Doubt'), an unsurprisingly quirky hoe-down with Axel Boman ('Anywhere in the World'), the Kraftwerk-influenced 'Hamstring' with Michael Mayer, and a dash of tactile tech-house dreaminess crafted in cahoots with Robag Wruhme ('If You Leave').
Review: Whomadewho return to Kompakt with a flurry of activity that includes a series of Eps and an album, all under the Synchronicity banner. The pair last released an artist album on the label back in 2012 and this time around their work features a wealth of collaborators. One of those like-minds is Kompakt boss Michael Mayer, who lends his expertise to the sleazy electronic disco of "Hamstrung" a highlight of this taster EP. On "Chaser", Whomadewho team up with Rebolledo to deliver sun-kissed 80s disco rock, while "Falling Out" sees them work with Terr to drop a chugging, cosmic groove. Rounding off this fine EP is the post-punk stylings of "The Aftermath" s split production with Adana Twins.
Review: Kompakt staple Rune Reilly Kolsch is charting new terrain on his fourth long player for the imprint titled 'Now Here No Where'. The Danish producer presents an album about life in the year 2020: 'a time defined by confusion, misinformation and environmental challenges.. [in addition to] emotional interpretation of personal and mental challenges, observations and personal growth... (but) most of all, it is an album about hope.' Featuring various mood and grooves to accentuate the album's theme and narrative: from the rolling dancefloor drama of "Shoulder Of Giants", his sonic trademark of razor sharp synth textures as heard on "Sleeper Must Awaken" and the glassy-eyed and bittersweet vocal anthem "Time" through to the slinky and hypnotic futurism of "Romtech User Manual" - Kolsch turns in yet another awe-inspiring opus with this one.
Review: As you'd expect given their length of service and impressive back catalogue, the line-up of guest producers on Whomadewho's second EP of collaborations is eye-catching to say the least. Arguably the most headline-grabbing name is Ame member and Innervisions co-founder Frank Wiedemann, who lends a hand on the dreamy, otherworldly post-punk pop shuffle of "Peter Pan Me". Those looking for more dancefloor potential should check out EP opener "Oblivion", a slowly building slab of introspective vocal deep house moodiness co-produced by Mano Le Tough, and the more Balearic, sun-kissed warmth of gorgeous Marc Pional hook-up "Sooner". Or, for that matter, the cowbell-laden disco-punk-goes-acid house headiness of "Der Abend Bergt Keine Ruh", which the Danish trio made in cahoots with Perel.
Review: Kompakt recently re-released scene stalwart Rex The Dog's core back catalogue - an artist that has become an integral part of the label's story. They decided to have a few of the British artist's favourite producers rework some of his renowned singles, and the results come as 'Versions'. This collection of three remixes from a varied crew of producers features Irishman Krystal Klear, who accentuates the strobe lights and smoke machine on his euphoric rendition of last year's thriller "Vortex", Madrid-based Italian Bawrut delivers his idiosyncratic style of nu-disco on his remix of "Sicko" and Viennese producer Wolfram Eckert delivers a mesmerising rework of "Circulate".
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: On his forthcoming new LP, Now Here No Where, Kompakt staple Kolsch is charting new terrain. The Danish producer presents an album about life in the year 2020: 'a time defined by confusion, misinformation and environmental challenges.. [in addition to] emotional interpretation of personal and mental challenges, observations and personal growth.' The first single to be taken from the opus is the deeply evocative "While Waiting For Something To Care About" featuring the strings of collaborator Gregor Schwellenbach once again, in addition to the more positive and uplifting euphorics of "Now Here No Where" which also appears on the album - this one is a truly glassy-eyed and bittersweet affair in the vein of label alumni like Michael Mayer and Tobias Thomas.
Review: A surprisingly pop-oriented release to have emerged from the Kompakt stables, this one... but that's not necessarily a complaint! 'Hello Echo' itself is the kind of shiny, summery disco-house/nu-disco that once defined the Hed Kandi brand - albeit lent a little extra depth and substance thanks to some tripped-out, Space-like synths that meander off on a jazz-funk excursion as the track progresses - and is served in Original and Radio Edit rubs; if you can handle the pop vocal, it's really quite irresistible. Elsewhere on the EP, 'Down With The Rhythm' has a mid-80s electro/proto-house feel, while 'Acqua Panna' is a delicately tinkling Balearic affair underpinned by muted, shuffling drums.
Review: Chameleon-like producer Yotam Avni has seen his music over the years make it to a host of peak time labels like Stroboscopic Artefacts, Hotflush Recordings, Ovum and Innervisions. But never an album! Cologne institution Kompakt welcomed the Israeli artist into its fold with a single on the Kompakt sub-label Extra this year - following previous 'Speichers' from Robag Wruhme and Marc Romboy - with Kompakt's main imprint proudly presenting the Israeli artist's debut album, Was Here. Inspired to join the dots between jazz, Detroit techno and classical, find deep, watery and reflective numbers in "9th May", to bassline vocal tracks in "Just Another Day" (featuring DoP), and Riechian-piano influences in others like "Nature Of Dreams". Yotam Avni was 'ere, 2020.
Review: The debut album of veteran Cologne-based producer Jorg Burger's alias The Bionaut has been reissued and remastered by local institution Kompakt here, 28 years on from its original release. Originally appearing on his Blue imprint, which he ran with the esteemed Jammin' Unit, 'Everybody's Kissing Everyone' is a classic release which took on strong influences of Chicago and UK acid house of the time, with nods to native trance sounds and some subtle pop connotations. These influences would go on to be more prominent in Burger's later work, under other aliases such as The Modernist or Trinkwasser. From the euphoric Summer Of Love vibe of the title track, to the Motor City energy of "A Man & His Dog Out For Air" and its syncopated 909 rhythms, or the uplifting vocal house anthem "Apples & Oranges" - there's no denying that this opus is a zeitgeist in German electronic music's history.
Review: As one of the co-heads for Cologne based Kompakt, city native Michael Mayer has helped to curate their distinct sound aesthetic for over two decades and is equally revered behind the decks for his epic and masterful sonic narratives. Mayer returns to his beloved imprint for a new offering entitled "Higher" which is his first original contribution to the label in eight years. This is a playful and uplifting tune with an old school aesthetic. Taking its cues from his humble beginnings in Italo disco and early 90's US deep house, it is a future classic if we do say so ourselves. This is followed by the moody "Doot Doot" led by its hypnotic jacked vocal, and lastly the brooding dancefloor drama of "Take A Stand For Love" with its roaring Reese bassline tearing through the speakers.
Review: Andrea, Fedele and Luigi are Agents Of Time and they are back after a succession of wonderful releases on their Obscura imprint with this debut here for Cologne institution Kompakt. The label has never been shy of exploring the enigmatic fringes of disco (in their own distinct way) and the Pugliese trio follow this convention by heading into galactic territory on the 'Music Made Paradise' EP. Soar up high, deep into the stratosphere on the cosmic euphoria of "Drive Me Crazy" complete with classic vocoder lyrics, then carrying on with the rich Italian tradition of electronic disco sounds on the bittersweet dancefloor drama of "Under Control" awash in lush synth textures and hypnotic arpeggios galore. Finally the moody night drive of "Interstate 10" is indeed a dark one, but stylishly illuminated with neon flourishes.
Review: American producer Steve Moore is widely recognized as one half of ZOMBI, his numerous thriller movie soundtrack works, as well has his clubbier output on Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. imprint. He's back on Cologne institution Kompakt with 'Frame Dragging EP, 10 years since his last appearance on Speicher 67. Some truly soulful and emotive techno journeys featured, as heard on the epic title track or "Gamma Quadrant" which tread a similar territory to label mate John Tejada - and will surely lead to some life affirming moments on the dancefloor. Finally, the contemplative off-kilter and ethereal feelings of "Proto" moves into much more hypnotic territory.
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: As we head into a new decade of sound it's a safe feeling to know that as genres evolve and change we have Kompakt to guide us through such times. The label, a fundamental proponent in giving dance music the accessibility and popularity is has today, has always had its finger on the pulse when it comes to introducing new ideas and genre concepts going forward. Their annual pop ambient series, from the start, has remained a place for recognised label mates and associates to release music that's still appealing to the masses while remaining leftfield, avant garde and easy on the ears. Call it neo-easy listening. Expect swathes of deep piano chords, swells of emotional pads drenched in reverb and splashes of contemporary classicalisms. Your soundtrack and introduction to a new vanguard of future music.
Review: Following his release on DJ Koze's Pampa label earlier this year, Robag Wruhme delivers a hypnotic dance floor EP for Kompakt. The title track revolves around a resonating bass, ticking steely percussion and a rolling groove. It's more ominous-sounding than Wruhme's usual style and has echoes of early 90s UK techno. While "Blymon" is also an effective, driving affair, its is more in keeping with Wruhme's stripped back minimal releases and this approach is audible in the pitch-bent drops and skeletal percussive loops. "Cassave" is the most abstract of all cuts, with a cacophony of tonal blips and murky stabs driving the arrangement.
Same Little Thing (Michael Mayer remix) - (7:25) 119 BPM
Same Little Thing (Alternative mix) - (3:30) 119 BPM
The Weight (Lake Turner remix) - (4:11) 51 BPM
Roll Together (Steve Moore mix) - (5:31) 116 BPM
Doesn't Do Anything (Silicon mix) - (3:04) 125 BPM
Are You Even Real (TRS-80 mix) - (4:24) 107 BPM
Review: Featuring tracks from Weval's second artist album, The Weight, this series of remixes includes some outstanding reworks of Harm Coolen and Merijn Scholte Albers' work. Michael Mayer turns "Same Little Thing" into a pulsating, low-slung groove that resounds to cosmic melodies and golden, vocodered vocals. On the Alternative remix of the same track, rolling live drums and woozy melodies prevail, while Lake Turner's take on "The Weight" offers another different approach as understated kicks underpin swirling trance melodies that could have come from Border Community's back catalogue. Most impressive of all though is synth wizard Steve Moore's take on"Roll Together", which evolves from a murky bass into an epic, ominous stepper.
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: Elina Shorokhova aka Soela is a multi-talented artist hailing from southern Russia who now calls Berlin her home. It is there where she continues to build her presence in the community through her live and DJ sets, alongside documenting the local scene and artists through her lens as a photographer. Following up an impressive run of releases on the likes of E-Beamz, Lost Palms and Australia's Red Ember, Shorokhova returns with four evocative tracks on the ever reliable Kompakt imprint. From the sensual breakbeat driven progressive house vibe of "Lily", soothing and sensual deep house for the late night on "Close Your Eyes" and the slinky and hypnotic tech hose of "White Becomes Black" - we have only seen the start of Shorokhova's blossoming and promising career.
Review: Harm Coolen and Merjin Shotte aka Weval presented their full length entitled The Weight earlier this year on Cologne's Kompakt imprint. No doubt, it was their most powerful and organic material yet, which means a lot considering the amount of skill already on display in their small, but weighty portfolio. Now they serve up a series of wonderful remixes by some of the label alumni here: label co-head Michael Mayer is in impressive form as always with his emotive and uplifting rework of "Same Little Thing" which retains the vocal from the infectious original and works it well. Released earlier this year and contained for your convenience also is the Lake Turner remix of "The Weight" where the London-based producer bridges the gap between slo-mo Balearica and electronica wonderfully.
Review: Enzo Elia, who has put out on Hell Yeah and Freerange, delivers a killer debut for Kompakt. Teaming up with Aldebaran for production and Quique on vocals, "Low Red" is a blistering, moody electro cut that resonates to a frazzled bass and atmospheric synths. On the flip, with Elia flying in solo mode, "AJ Squinza" focuses on a more typical Kompakt cut, with high-frequency bleeps building over a pulsating, electronic disco groove. Remaining in similar territory but beefing up the bass, Elia drops "Volpinata", where mysterious synths twist and turn their way over a heads-down slightly tougher bass. It's not the last we're likely to hear of Elia's association with Kompakt.