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Various artists:
Total 16

over 15 years now, Cologne techno label Kompakt has been releasing
annual round-ups of its talent, often including both previously
released favorites of the year as well as several unreleased tracks.
While the first five were single-disc CD releases, they started
doubling the package to include twice as much music. This allowed
Kompakt to make many of its prime vinyl-only cuts available to CD
listeners, which might be more moot now that the CD is less
ubiquitous as a form of listening media. But I still very much
approve the notion of a double album annual retrospective, which
allows listeners to get a handsome, bird’s eye view of the state of
affairs at Kompakt. Total 16 is the first release in the series in
some time where I’ve felt genuinely inspired and excited by the scope
and breadth of sounds and talent represented. Some of the established
guard of Kompakt make appearances — label bosses Michael Mayer,
Jürgen Paape, Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt all contribute — and
they are joined by a fairly well-rounded grouping of newer signings
and one-offs to cover many facets of contemporary techno, house, and
in between. I’ve traditionally most enjoyed Kompakt’s output when
it’s walked the line between melancholic techno and something more
streamlined or mechanical. (The latter is best exemplified by the
stellar catalogue on sister imprint Profan.) Total 16 has its fair
share of gloomy dancefloor gems, including Lake Turner’s “Bacon
Fields,” Patrice Bäumel’s two appearances between his original
“Surge” and a fantastic remix of Blond:ish’s “Endless Games,”
and Ulrich Schnauss’s excellent remix of Dave DK’s “Kronsee.”

Total 16 by Various Artists

There are nods to more mid-tempo Balaeric disco by Frankey and
Sandrino and Coma, while some familiar names are still trucking along
with solid albeit familiar techno (Alex Under, The Modernist, Rex the
Dog). There is the usual handful of oddballs, tracks that break the
mould of most Kompakt releases or genre in general: Sonn’s “Teacher”
is an oddly spry, uptempo song with nervous vocals, while Weval’s “I
Don’t Need It” is especially infectious with its looping, bent
vocal and light chords. It’s a solid round-up, nearly from start to
finish. Teebs’ remix of The Orb’s “Moonbuilding 2703 AD” feels a
bit of a mess, but otherwise Total 16 is solid showing of talent from
Kompakt and their affiliates. Clocking in at over three hours of
music, these 28 tracks cover a lot of ground in sounds, ranging from
straightforward to pleasantly surprising. However, the quality
control is at its usual high standard, ensuring little filler and
showcasing label bosses and veterans alongside fresh and new talents,
highly recommended.

Buy it: Kompakt Bandcamp