For electronic music addicts, the Kompakt label is more than just a reliable source. It?s a place to come home to and feel good. For several years now, they have invented trends (the so called ?saw tooth techno? and also the ?Schaffel? techno), they have provided deejays all around the world with new and exciting vinyl releases, and every year as a christmas present, Kompakt releases another volume of their Pop Ambient series.
Now it?s 2006 and ambient electronic music is not really en vogue, which doesn?t keep the Kompakt people from putting out 13 more floating rivers of sound in the exact same style they do it every year. I wouldn?t say that Pop Ambient 2006 is any better or worse than the previous volumes (I haven?t even heard them all). Also, the music is in no way revolutionary or ground-breaking, but that?s probably not the intention of the Pop Ambient series anyway. They?re just meant to make you feel good and so they do.
While Pop Ambient 2006 features several of the Kompakt ambient regulars like Markus Guentner, J?rg Burger?s Triola project or Ulf Lohmann, all of whom deliver reliably, there are also some new names to discover. Uli Teichmann, one half of the Gebr?der Teichmann, contributes one of the most beautiful pieces on the disc. His ?Piano Tec? feels like lying on the beach at night. The stars don?t move and gentle waves come and go and tingle your feet. Also Mikkel Metal, usually known for his dub-techno excursions, has some indeniable talents at producing ambient music. ?Decline? combines metallic glitch sounds with fluffy clouds of sound. The disc?s absolute highlight though is The Orb?s ?Edelgr?n?, which starts out with a bolero like guitar sample accompanied by some congas that soon gets the trademark Orb treatment by ways of backwards played sound and lots of delay effects. Without a doubt, ?Edelgr?n? is one of the finest pieces, The Orb have produced in the last few years.
Sebastian Meissner of Autopoieses records for Kompakt under the Klimek moniker and is the only artist contributing two tracks to the compilation. Only one of them is fully convincing though. The remix of his own ?Milk? with its slow and fading guitar chords produces that feeling of tranquility and balance that the Pop Ambient concept is geared at. His second contribution is a version of Eric Satie?s well known composition ?Gymnopedie No. 1? which stays too close to the original. Only in its second half Meissner leaves the treaded paths of the original and adds some of his own vision to it. The second cover version comes from K?hncke/Heimermann and reworks Fleetwood Mac?s ?Albatros?, also one of their most popular pieces. While certainly pleasant, it lacks originality. Especially Justus K?hncke who has much experience with cover versions could have done better, I guess. 7/10 -- Stephan Bauer (27 June, 2006)