Various Pop Ambient 2005

Whereas Kompakt’s techno arm has been rapidly branching out in new directions through the breakneck onslaught of their twelve-inches, the label’s pop ambient side, which makes up for half of the label’s CD output, has remained relatively intact since its inception. A sound spearheaded by Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas project, pop ambient incorporates Eno-esque soft ambience with subtle melodic hooks underneath. This year’s compilation features label requisites like the Orb, Markus Guenter, Gas, Thomas Fehlmann and Ulf Lohmann, all of whom offer up the disc’s most poignant and understated moments. Not that differentiating between producers makes too much of a difference, as all the tracks flow together more seamlessly than most full-length albums. Last year’s instalment in the series seemed more open to granular instrumentation, which helped add a much-needed weightiness to the disc’s atmosphere. However, this year’s instalment, while pleasant enough to listen to in one sitting, seems content to settle for a basic model and inoffensive of ambience, without leaving the underlying impression the best examples of genre offer up so abundantly. (Kompakt)