Review: Formerly one half of acclaimed duo Footprintz, Clarian North has really come into his own since flying solo, with some terrific releases over the last few years on Turbo, Balance Music and of course Kompakt - Time Safari being his third release for the Cologne based institution in only a mere couple of years. The EP was said to be a two year long process, from recordings made in South Africa with collaborators Richard Marshall and Blane Venter along with many locals along the way. From the futuristic, electro-influenced groove of the title track, the hypnotic and enchanting tech house of "Ancient Cave" awashed in shimmering delightful melodies to epic closer "Early Life", it's a sublime journey from start to finish.
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: 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: 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: Given that Ghost Vision is the combined work of Thomas "Cagedbaby" Gandey and Psychemagik man Danny McLewin, you'd expect this 12" - their second in as many weeks following a debut outing on Love on the Rocks - to be pretty darn hot. It is, of course, with the duo serving up two deliciously epic chunks of kosmiche-inspired hypnotism. A-side "Saturnas (Ghost Vision Theme)" is particularly potent, with exotic synthesizer lines, spacey chords and bubbling TB-303 acid lines gently rising above a chugging, locked-in groove. "Zuul Passage" is an altogether more languid and meandering affair rich in evocative electronics, tear-jerking synthesizer melodies and sparse-but-solid vintage drum machine beats. It's also really rather beautiful.
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".
Review: Veteran Los Angeleno producer John Tejada unveils his thirteenth Studio Album entitled Dead Start Program. He named it after a system that started an iconic 1960s supercomputer called the CDC 6600, which is used to represent a 'metaphorical reboot from the challenges life throws at you'. Moreover he's said to have used a 'limited studio setup' to create the 11 tracks on offer. From the moody and disjointed hypnotica of opening track "Autoseek", the old-school west coast breaks of "Sleep Spindle" to the brooding smack electro of "Loss" or the bouncy dancefloor euphoria of "The Looping Generation" - which is indeed classic Tejada all the way! The album comes courtesy of Cologne institution Kompakt: an imprint he's had strong rapport with since 2011.
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".
Review: Marcus Worgull and Danilo Plessow's Vermont project saw a couple of house music's most esteemed producers and selectors pursue an alternate musical avenue into ambient/balearic territory. The perfect musical accompaniment to Summertime road trips across the continent or for chilling with friends and loved ones at the beach house or by the campfire. Tracks from the II LP now get the remix treatment by some of the scene's biggest names here. Worgull's close associate and Innervisions boss Dixon is first up and remixes "Dschuna" into an evocative and life-affirming epic, in all its Afro and spiritually influenced glory that you could imagine him playing during one of his acclaimed DJ sets. "Skorbut" receives a shimmering disco-tinged remake by the one and only I:Cube of Versatile Records fame and also on the flip is Wassermann aka Wolfgang Voigt's totally epic Krautramatrik mix of "Paradigma" which takes the track deep into cosmic synth music territory.