Various Artists - Total 7
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Various Artists
Total 7

Like clockwork, the Kompakt label has released their highly sought-after Total compilation, and like last year's entry in the series, Total 7 is another 2CD affair that clocks in at about two and a half hours in running length. As always, the release features not only the biggest singles for the label, but unreleased tracks as well, with all the big names from the label (Michael Mayer, Superpitcher, Justus Köhncke, Thomas Fehlman, and others) contributing at least once.

"Grey Skies Turn To Blue" by Kontrast (which is actually Dirk Levers and Köhncke) opens the set, and the rather middling track recalls the blander work on the Kompakt 100 release as a pumping beat rides away underneath synth blurts that never really go much of anywhere. It gets going again in a hurry, though as the Wighnomy Brothers give "Leuchtturm" a dark and dirty reworking, layering the melodic elements in heavy reverb and programming hyper-clicky beats that skitter around it all.

One of the standouts on the first disc is also one of the shortest. At just over four minutes, "Pearly Spencer" by The Modernist isn't exactly a great length for throwing into extended dancefloor sessions, but the playful arpeggio's and odd vocals make it a minimal pop gem. Superpitcher keeps his solid streak humming along with another of the best tracks on the first disc in "Tonite," as relentless hi-hats dance across heavy, heaving bass notes, whispered vocals, and effervescent synths. Other big names don't fair so well, as Mikkel Metal's "Ulyt" is downright boring compared to his excellent Victimizer album.

The second disc fairs quite a bit better, as there are standouts just about everywhere you turn. The Supermayer remix of Gui Boratto's "Like You" is a breathy piece that builds and builds to a huge and excellent ending while Jörgen Paape's "Take That" is a short and sweet blast of hummable synth strains. Label chiefs Paape and Wolfgang Voigt team up as Wasserman for "In Tyrannis 2006" and the track is another shorter (under five minutes) song that mixes memorable melodies, blurping beat programming, and some sampled vocals to great effect.

I'm not sure if it's the format (the double CD set packed to the brim with music) or that some of the tracks on the release simply don't cut through as much as they should, but to me the high points of the release are when artists on the label whittle down their epic tracks into something a little more digestible and sometimes more pop oriented. While there are some great long tracks on the compilation as well (the nice "Domino" by Oxia is light and trancey without sounding too Global Underground), it's the shorter songs that really stand out the most to my ears. It's Kompakt, and there's definitely quality here, it's just not as lustrous as it could be.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2006-09-07 19:33:24