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Leandro Fresco: El Reino Invisible (Kompakt)

Leandro’s debut album for esteemed Köln label Kompakt is a breath of fresh air, and I mean that almost literally. It comes over ten years after his last 12", Amor Internacional. With this album, Fresco set out to create something weightless and sunny: “I do not associate this album with feelings of sadness, but with hope, light and the summer heat, full of cyan and orange colors.” He succeeds, with opener “La Edad De Oro” hitting with a big full swoon of pads, chords, and effects. It’s truly gorgeous stuff, radiant and enveloping.

It’s true to label owner Wolfgang Voigt’s ethos for the Pop Ambient compilation series that’s quietly adding a new edition at least once a year for the last ten or so, stripping the usual minimal techno and house elements and instead focusing on warm atmospheres, drowsy sounds, and gentle melodic flourishes. This is not to say that there aren’t more stark moments; the clear plucked melody of “La Herida Del Soldado” recalls the most stripped down and elegant moments of Arovane’s Tides era, as do the light harmonics of “Los Pasos Vacilantes De Los Reyes.” How Fresco walks the line between introspective warmth and something more lonely or solitary is deft, never indulging the temptation to go somber and instead staying in a warm, sunny place, even when some of those moments are quite serene and understated. “El Valle” is a serene wash of thin pads that subtly skitter and circulate, while “Principe De Viento” is more lush, deeper, more gorgeous. They set the stage well for the elegant closing title track, which shares the same glory of the opener — big, radiant, and immersive. It’s the best ambient material I’ve heard on Kompakt in some time, succeeding in both Fresco’s intent and concept as well as on its own merits. It’s truly lovely, perhaps my favorite ambient release of the year so far.

Buy it: Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon