Various Artists - Pop Ambient 2008
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Various Artists
Pop Ambient 2008

In my mind, 2007 has probably been the best year for Kompakt Records since they were founded. The Field (From Here We Go Sublime), Thomas Fehlmann (Honigpumpe) and Gui Boratto (Chromophobia) all released killer solo albums while Total 8 was a bit weaker than the usual roundup, there were still the usual standout high points. Another in their yearly releases, Pop Ambient 2008 arrives right at the end of the year, and given the weather in a good portion of the world, it seems fitting that this batch of more drifting tracks arrives in time with cooler temperatures and snow.

With twelve tracks that run almost exactly an hour in length, this warm release is all about warm and fuzzy textures and drifts by almost completely without beats. Like past compilations, it also features all new and exclusive tracks from some of the biggest names on the label, including a couple of those mentioned above. Basically, if you've heard Pop Ambient releases in the past, you know what you're getting into here, and in large part artists are working in very similar territory here. Triola lofts some deep, almost gamelan-sounding tones over multiple layers of stratocumulus-soft texture puffs on "In Lourdes," while Fehlmann drops "Camilla," an analogue-laced track that sounds like a completely shattered dub track playing through a wind chime showroom before it locks into a submerged dance track for the latter half.

Klimek stands out from the masses with his string-laced (and fittingly titled) "The Ice Storm," which is a nice progression from his sometimes outstanding Music To Fall Asleep To. One of the other standouts on the release (and not just because I'm still enamored with his debut) is "Kappsta 2" by The Field, which takes micro-snippets of vocal samples and blends them along with held notes into a gorgeous, trance-like track. Essentially, it's exactly what he did on his debut, but the formula is still working quite well based on the track, and it adds some much-needed life into a compilation that's otherwise pretty limpid. Of course, complaining that the release should have more beats (or even rhythms) is a bit disingenuous given the collection title. This is ambient music in the key of Kompakt, and it's a pretty darn nice little way to come down at the end of the year.

rating: 6.7510
Aaron Coleman 2007-12-13 20:19:35