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Various Artists Pop Ambient 2016 Kompakt

The Kompakt empire is built on two cornerstones: rich, evocative techno that has become pretty much synonymous with underground German dance music, and the Pop Ambient series (which has astonishingly been running since 2001). Through sheer endurance – and consistently killer releases
– Kompakt has earned the right to do something every year that most labels would struggle to get away with once: release a compilation of pastoral, ambient electronica.

If you’ve ever caught one of label-boss Michael Mayer’s extended sets, then you will know roughly what to expect: sumptuous, rolling melodies stretched across an almost rhythm-less frame, but with an identifiable sense of direction nonetheless. And there are some gems on the 2016 edition. Jens Uwe Breyer’s The Bremen is a creeping shadow at dusk, with haunted piano melodies enveloping the remnants of an autumnal day. Long serving Kompakt stalwart Dave DK’s contribution is a super-slow spaced- out Balearic head-nodder, and The Orb (they’re still here) pull out an ominous, crackly mood board in Alpine Dawn. There are moments that veer away from gold-standard Kompakt – the droopy, lolloping Mikkel Metal by Titan – but by and large it’s a peaceful patchwork of electronic sedatives to get horizontal to.