Kompakt has been running for nearly 30 years. In electronic music terms, that's not quite archaic, but it's hard to think of many other German labels that have survived for so long – and evolved from experimental house and early minimal techno to all kinds of dance music, into a cohesive but widespread hub of distribution, booking, publishing and management. Founded by Wolfgang Voigt, Jurgen Paape, Reinhard Voigt and Michael Mayer in 1993, Kompakt is looking back at a past dominated by a discography of surprisingly large variety. Much-acclaimed and highly distinct artists like The Field, Kolsch, DJ Koze, Gus Gus, The Orb, Superpitcher, Matias Aguayo, Justus Kohncke, COMA, Gui Boratto, Kaito, Robag Wruhme or Saschienne have shaped their careers via the iconic imprint, just to name a very few. The complete story is surely much more complicated than that, but Wolfgang always says it best: “Forward ever, backwards never."
Review: In Kolsch's fifth offering on the Kompakt label, "I Talk To Water," we embark on an emotionally charged and profoundly personal musical odyssey that pushes the boundaries of electronic music. This release stands as the artist's most intimate work to date, encompassing all the signature elements that have made his music widely acclaimed - lush melodic techno, trance-like structures, and sensuous, shivery textures. The genesis of "I Talk To Water" is rooted in Kolsch's reverence for his late father, Patrick Reilly, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2003. The album serves as a poignant homage to his father's memory. Reilly's presence graces three tracks, adding a deeply personal dimension to the album. In "Grape," his gentle guitar melodies harmonize with Kolsch's rhythmic beats, creating a melancholic, yet entrancing atmosphere. "Tell Me" is a brief, beautiful art song adorned with delicate keys and a subtle pulse. On the closing track "It Ends Where It Began," Kolsch lets his father's acoustic guitar take center stage, culminating in a poignant guitar solo that resonates with the soul. The album also features "Pet Sound," a tribute to one of Reilly's favorite albums, and tracks like "Khenpo," "Only Get Better," and "Implant" showcase Kolsch's expertise in crafting dynamic and emotionally charged techno.
Review: Captain Mustache's return to Kompakt with The Super Album marks a triumphant reunion with the label after his 2021 single "Everything" - and other releases for Bordello A Parigi, Permanent Vacation and Bedrock. This talented French producer in recent editions has collaborated with luminaries like Chicks on Speed, Arnaud Rebotini, to even Amanda Lear - with the album taking on a super voyage of its own. From the poetic club banger "About Love" to the deep techno pulsations of "Laser Me", The Super album combines a dancefloor-focused narrative, delving into electro, driving techno, with moments of melancholic beauty that include the arpeggios of "Everything" and the Dopplereffekt-inspired "Galaxian Symbiosis." Overall, it delivers a dense, hypnotic, and brilliant pop journey that moulds your body into evocative new shapes for the dancefloor.
Review: Kompakt's 23rd Total compilation fearlessly explores the dance music realm once again with a curated lineup that ranges from deep minimalism to radiant disco-infused tracks and more. 23 kicks off with Kollmorgen's moody and atypical Kompakt cut "Muddy" leading into the subtle chimes of Argia's "No Concept". Some bite size Italo pop comes via Michael Mayer's "Talmi" alongside a heavier Cologne-infused "Duration" made with legendary cohort Barnt, while there's some new wave to be found from Stephan Barnem & Futuristant alongside some genre-defying "Cinematic Dance" by Jorg Burger. Summer hits also come from Rex The Dog, and John Tejada who drops in with "Duration", before the compilation concludes with Reinhard Voigt's classic vocal and tone combi: "Endlich XXL"
Review: Stephan Barnem, an Italo-Brazilian DJ and producer who has made a name for himself in the music industry with his unique blend of techno, house, and electronica, is here collaborating with Futuristant, a rising star in the electronic music scene, to create an impressive new release, "Don't Cry," a homage to their mutual favorite band, Depeche Mode. While "Don't Cry" channels the dark brooding euphoria of Depeche Mode's "Music for the Masses" era, "Elysium" brings listeners back to the synthwave happy days of the band's debut album, "Speak & Spell." This carefree track is a breath of fresh air that's much-needed on today's discerning dancefloors.
Review: 29 years since he made his debut, techno, deep house and ambient master John Tejada continues to deliver inspired music - much of it infused with plenty of machine soul and melodies to die for. This three-tracker for Kompakt is predictably impressive, with the Los Angeles-based veteran confidently striding between warm, hypnotic and jaunty tech-house haziness (the joyously rising and infectious 'Verior'), ultra-deep, saucer-eyed techno-tempo deep house (the blissful, unashamedly emotive 'Wild Ride') and glitchy, rolling, locked-in late-night excellence (the 'sunrise in Berlin' shuffle of 'Infinism'). In other words, it's another excellent EP from a producer who rarely puts a foot wrong.
Review: Hardt Antoine makes his debut on Kompakt with an unforgettable EP. "Nobody's Watching" revolves around a throbbing bass and snappy rhythm. But it's the ghostly, atmospheric synth that elevates it to a different level. In contrast, "All We See" is a modern take on trance, with acid pulses and dreamy melodies coming together over a pulsating groove. "Radial" is different again - this time, Antoine conjures up a dramatic ambient track focused on crashing piano keys and gurgling 303s. The release also features an alternate 'Freedom' take on "All We See" - which sees a tougher rhythm provide the backdrop for the trance melodies.
Review: Eight years have passed since Agents of Time released their debut album, so this belated sequel - for the mighty Kompakt, no less - is well overdue. The Italian duo's sound has evolved significantly over the last decade, moving from deep, progressive-influenced style to something much more widescreen, epic and smothered in sci-fi sounds. Universo, then, is a grand and inspiring affair, with the pair flitting between rubbery, tech-tinged two-step pop ('Fallin'), throbbing, Italo-influenced synth-pop ('Interstellar Cowboy', 'Liquid Fantasy'), nu-disco/tech-house fusion ('Pulses'), trancey electro-pop ('Poison'), garage-disco ('Vocal Ghost'), and string-laden dancefloor journeys ('Dream Vision (Orchestra Version)').
Review: Following up the excellent "Blu" a couple of months ago, Southern Italian duo Agents Of Time are back on Cologne"s esteemed Kompakt Records with another electrifying adventure through future disco sounds on the suitably titled "Interstellar Cowboy". An eagerly anticipated release, this neon-lit vocal number has caused a huge buzz online the last several weeks, and we just know it"s going to be one of the biggest anthems over the forthcoming summer. Label staple Gui Borrrato from Brazil steps in for remix duties, in addition to a handy edit.
Review: Egyptian-born, Barcelona-based DJ and techno producer Raxon released Sound Of Mind in late 2021. Like many albums released during the pandemic, Raxon's debut album was a product of the unique social situation the planet has found itself caught within. Now we have some revised selections from the LP offered up here by German powerhouse Kompakt, with a new club version of "Exit Station", while "El Multiverse" receives a intensely cerebral redux by Japanese hypnotic techno merchant Wata Igarashi, and German minimal electro/'maximal' stalwarts Extrawelt get onboard for two renditions of "Droid Solo".