Review: Formerly one half of acclaimed duo Footprintz, Clarian North has really come into his own since flying solo, with some terrific releases over the last few years on Turbo, Balance Music and of course Kompakt - Time Safari being his third release for the Cologne based institution in only a mere couple of years. The EP was said to be a two year long process, from recordings made in South Africa with collaborators Richard Marshall and Blane Venter along with many locals along the way. From the futuristic, electro-influenced groove of the title track, the hypnotic and enchanting tech house of "Ancient Cave" awashed in shimmering delightful melodies to epic closer "Early Life", it's a sublime journey from start to finish.
Review: Originally released back in 1997 on the seminal (now defunct) imprint Mille Plateaux, Zauberberg was the second album by Wolfgang Voit under his Gas moniker and considered as his most foreboding piece of work since. This reissue on his own revered Kompakt comes on 180 gram vinyl featuring all seven tracks. Breathtaking drone excerpts and cavernous, all consuming dub techno journeys merge with awe-inspiring orchestral arrangements (samples from legendary composers such as Richard Wagner, Alban Berg, and Arnold Schoenberg) on this tremendous opus that remains an essential listening after all these years.
Review: Kompakt continues to reissue the early, in-demand works of hypnotic ambient techno pioneer Wolfgang Voigt AKA Gas. This time it's "Konigsforst", an album that has been unavailable on vinyl since its' initial pressing on Mille Plateaux in 1998. Built around locked-in, soft-focus techno rhythms, drowsy neo-classical movements, densely layered samples and hazy, hard-to-define melodic elements, the album's eight tracks remain as potent now as they did 21 years ago. Voigt has made a lot of inspired music in his thickset "sound soup" style, but there's something extra-special about this "Konigsforst", which we'd describe as the audio equivalent of a sunrise stumble through an ancient German forest.
Review: Times have changed since Jake Williams first donned the Rex The Dog alias for Kompakt in 2004, but his ability to deliver ear-pleasing, synth-heavy dancefloor cuts has never faltered. "Vortex", the lead cut from the producer's first EP on 2019, is a particular potent example of his art, with Williams building and releasing tension via sparse, spacey lead lines, new wave style synth chords, matter-or-fact techno beats, trance-inducing motifs and some suitably mind-altering breakdowns. It's arguably his strongest club cut for years and certainly the most alluring. Over on side B, "Elektromekanik" sees Williams brilliantly alternate between moments of loved-up, rush-inducing dreaminess and thrillingly angular, hard-wired modular electronics.
Terrapin - "Cirrus Minor" (The Black Frame Extract) (3:18)
The Modernist - "Magic Lantern" (Velvet edit) (5:26)
Burger/Ink - "Memphisto" (5:11)
The Novotones - "The Gain Of Loss" (4:39)
Cologne Tape - "Welt 10" (Jorg Burger mix) (5:48)
Fantastic Twins - "Pilgrims" (6:30)
Rebolledo & The Novotones - "Mountain Eagle" (The Black Frame Desert mix) (6:27)
Paulor - "Arrival" (4:58)
XuXu Fang - "Noir State Beach" (The Modernist mix) (5:31)
Sascha Funke & Cosmo Vitelli - "Botzaris" (5:31)
Kenneth James Gibson - "Far From Home" (Superpitcher mix) (7:18)
Review: Designed as a kind of "anything-goes" alternative to Kompakt's "Ambient Pop" series, "Velvet Desert Music" was apparently inspired by the desire of its curator, Cologne stalwart Jorg Burger, to "create a distinct vibe and atmosphere". He certainly achieves that aim, offering up a mixture of previously unreleased tracks and mixes that evoke mental images of dusk-till-dawn road-trips across the American Midwest. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the lilting Americana of Terrapin's "Cirrus Minor (The Black Frame Extract)" and the trippy, delay-laden downtempo headiness of Burger/Ink's "Memphisto", to the menacing dark-pop of the Fantastic Twins, the country-tinged swamp funk of Rebolledo & The Novotones' "Mountain Eagle (The Black Frame Desert Mix)" and the exotic, faintly foreboding slo-mo electronica of Sascha Funke and Cosmo Vitelli's "Botzaris".