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: 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: 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: On the back of Kompakt's expansive retrospective of his work under the Gas alias, the essential Box, Wolfgang Voigt has decided to deliver a new album - his first for 17 years. Predictably, Narkopop is as cinematic, widescreen and densely layered as anything the German ambient producer has done to date. Over 11 spellbinding tracks, Voigt blends field recordings and droning electronics with sweeping, almost orchestral movements, swirling melodic cycles, and occasional forays into rhythmic hypnotism. The result is a collection of "wall of sound" ambient compositions that does a terrific job tiptoeing the fine lines between both grandiosity and intimacy, and joy and pain. In a word: essential.
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".
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".