Review: Producer Alexander P.J Geiger was very active during the noughties, releasing a string of singles and albums (both as Geiger and Nass) before all but disappearing from view. Fahrland is his latest artistic incarnation and this, the project's debut outing, marks the producer's first release for eight years. The title, Mixtape Volume 1, hints at the album's construction; this is a set of disparate tracks that showcase Geiger's ability to turn his hand to a myriad of genres. So becalmed ambient cuts are followed, in sequence, by tracks that variously doff a cap to Balearic synth-pop, lo-fi electronic soul, ultra-deep house, jammed-out intergalactic techno, krautrock, hip-hop and dream pop.
Review: With nearly 40 years experience as a producer, having collaborated with everyone from Holger Hiller, Moritz Von Oswald and Juan Atkins among others, Swiss legend Thomas Fehlmann presents Los Lagos ('The Lakes'). It's his seventh solo full-length (and fourth for Koelsch institution Kompakt), following his Berlin inspired 2010 LP Gute Luft. The multi-talented composer and long standing member of The Orb embarked on a deep journey of soul searching while recording the album - and in the process incorporated elements of art, disco, minimalism, jazz and funk. A collection of glacial and textural dub introversions as best exemplified on "Lowenzahnzimmer" or "Morrislouis", but he also makes room for moments of pulsating hypnotic dancefloor dynamics ("Triggerism") and moments of lush ambient bliss reminiscent of his work with Dr. Alex Patterson on "Geworden".
Review: For his third full-length for the constantly enduring Kompakt label, Axel Willner has decided to take his enduring brand of Balearic loop techno to grandiose new heights. Sonically, the template remains the same - intoxicating layers of guitar, voice and ambient synth loops atop hypnotic dancefloor grooves - but the resultant tracks are just, well, bigger - cinematic, even. Given Willner's inherent skill at producing this kind of baggy, organic techno, the results are rarely less than impressive. As a result, Looping State Of Mind makes for thoroughly enjoyable listening, simultaneously appearing ambitiously big and pleasantly intimate. He deserves enormous credit for pulling it off.
Review: Kompakt staple Axel Willner returns to present his sixth full-length effort for Kompakt, following up 2016's rather brilliant LP The Follower. On his latest outing, Willner is said to have looked for inspiration outside of the studio, which opened up fresh perspectives on the creation of new music. Moreover, he has stated that in a current climate of hopelessness, the album provided a sense of relief and comfort to him - providing feel good moments that he did not want to end. Indeed, Infinite Moment is a much more introspective affair than previous releases, from the brooding/slow burning opener "Made Of Steel. Made Of Stone", the smoky and glacial dub techno of "Hear Your Voice" to more evocative moments as heard on "Divide Now" or the life-affirming feel of the title track - which closes the impressive release on an optimistic note.
Review: In the words of Axel Willner himself regarding his fifth studio album "The Follower is about old myths, finding utopia and how mankind repeatedly makes the same mistakes over and over". The title track is fairly stomping acid techno that hypnotises you with its loopy and sinister repetition until the snare drum and organ sets in around the five minute mark; transforming the track dramatically. There's also some stylish electro-pop noir in the form of "Pink Sun" while "Monte Verita" or "Soft Streams" have that classic Kompakt sound ie: ethereal and dreamy house journeys. We particularly enjoyed the droney shoegaze electronics of "Raise The Dead" and the 14 minute long closing epic "Reflecting Lights", an ambient house journey that even The Orb would be impressed by.
Review: Since the release of 2016's epic Gas retrospective, Box, the pioneering drone ambient producer (real name Wolfgang Voigt) has been surprisingly productive. Rausch is the lauded electronic musician's speedy follow-up to last year's Narkopop, which happened to be his first full-length for over 15 years. As you'd expect, Rausch is superb, with Voigt variously turning cinematic orchestral tracks into hybrid electro-acoustic epics. While some are beat-less and fluid, others are loopy, hypnotic and otherworldly, with the German building tension via subtle rhythm tracks that draw on techno and IDM. The results are near faultless, as Voight once again proves that he's a true master of his ambient art.
Review: On his previous albums, 1977 and 1983, Rune Reilly Kolsch explored different aspects of his childhood, delivering music inspired by favourite formative memories. Predictably, this third full-length also has an autobiographical bent, inspired as it was by what the Danish producer calls his "difficult early teenage years". As he was dealing with both puberty and the break-up of his parents' marriage, it's perhaps unsurprising that 1989 features more music that's melancholic in tone, with extensive use of evocative string arrangements, rough-round-the-edges synthesizers, yearning pianos and nods towards early German techno. Clearly, young Kolsch was prone to teenage mood swings, too, because there's also plenty of surging tech-house beauty and heartfelt dancefloor positivity amongst the glistening poignancy.
Review: Since the release of his debut 12" back in 2013, Anton Kubikov has established himself as one of the fastest-rising names in the dub techno scene. For this keenly anticipated debut album, he's flipped the script a little, delivering a set of breathtaking ambient tracks. Given the atmospheric nature of his previous productions and his obvious attention to detail, it's a move that not only makes sense, but also results in a string of brilliant highlights. Alongside dark and moody, horror-influenced soundscapes and claustrophobic, dub techno-informed pieces, you'll also find Jonny Nash-esque ambient guitar works, blissful piano compositions, gentle new age electronica and the sparkling, wall-of-sound orchestral drone of impeccable closer "Entrance".
Review: The appearance of Kompakt's annual Pop Ambient compilation is usually a sign that Christmas is on its way. This year's edition is naturally as soothing and heart-warming as a glass of single malt beside the fire following a heavy festive feast. Highlights include the neo-classical movements of Chuck Johnson's wintry "Brahmi", the bubbly electronics of Kenneth James Gibson's "Destined To Vacate", the cinematic sweeps and layered field recordings of Wurden and Pfieffer's "Vacate" and the gently unfurling bliss of Yui Onodera's "Nine Chairs To The Moon", which sounds like an unlikely collaboration between Johnny Nash and Brian Eno. Those after "bigger" names will enjoy the fine contributions from the Orb and T.Raumschmiere, though there are far more sublime pieces elsewhere on the CD.
Wolfgang Voigt - "Ruckverzauberung" (Thore Pfeiffer megamix)
Jens Uwe Beyer - "The Bremen"
Leandro Fresco - "Configuracion De Ataque"
Thore Pfeiffer - "Idyll"
Review: Well it's that time of the year again. Wolfgang Voight compiles the best in ambient for his beloved label and it's more of the same high calibre ambient excursions you'd expect, like in previous editions. Starting off in truly breathtaking fashion with Stephan Matieu's "April Im Oktober", we're then treated to some new material by British icons The Orb, who present us with "Alpine Dawn" further testament to their otherworldly sense for sound. Label mainstay Mikkel Metal appears also with the sombre yet mesmerising cathedral drone of "Titan", as does Leandro Fresco, twice in fact. With both his sublime remix of Dave DK's "Veira" and his own "Configuracion de Atequa" featuring gorgeously uplifting tones reminiscent of old Gas material. Speaking of which, Voight himself appears with his mindblowing "Ruckverzauberung" from 2012 getting a brilliant modern revision by Thore Pfeiffer. Yet again, it goes without saying; this is essential listening.