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".
Review: New on Cologne powerhouse Kompakt this week is Dutch duo Erik Buschmann & Wannes Salome aka Ramses, who some may know from their work in Amsterdam-based outfit Klangstof. The I Feel Nothing EP is made up of three tracks tied by their shared sense of ethereal timelessness and ample versatility. From the emotive and dub-inflected deep house of the title track, to the hypnotic melody on the mellowed and low slung house jam "Born To Fail" and the cinematic subterranean murmurs of the sombre closing track "Groef".
Review: Earlier this year Kompakt legend and electronic music pioneer John Tejada saw the release of his Year Of The Living Dead LP - an open letter to what life was like in 2020. As doors and dancefloors in some parts of the world start to open up again, so do the remix packages to help facilitate the zombies out there! Delivering a sweet and dusty groove replete with beautiful keys, chords and resonating tones is a lush Lawrence mix of "Panacea" (feel that clap track) next to a boomy, stepping and positively ominous remake of "Echoes Of Life" by Dntel. Plaid throw down an electro, IDM and dub techno-inspired session in their remix of "Abbot Of Burton", next to Tejada's own rework of "Sheltered". Jack it like a zombie.
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: Since the Kompakt legend's heyday, Michael Mayer's music has been few and far between, however when something does land it's to be celebrated. The interim between Brainwave Technology and his last single, Higher, for Kompakt comes through what Mayer has described as a deep dive into the thorny terrain of artificial intelligence, transhumanism and posthumanism. Inspired by reading German philosopher Richard David Precht and 'watching hours of YouTube material by self-proclaimed prophets', Meyer keeps on a deep yet light hearted and progressive tip in tracks like "Alpha", to the subtle "Device For The Young At Heart". Mayer throws in something rougher and perhaps slightly Aphex-inspired via "Gamma", with "Brainwave Technology" itself the obvious hit here with its Dirtybird-esque bassline and electro rave elements. Michael Mayer meets Lex Fridman.
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.