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Kölsch: 1977 (Kompakt)

For years, Kompakt was a sure thing to me for great dance music. It didn’t matter if it was a club thumper like Michael Mayer’s “Speaker” or something more understated like Jürgen Paape’s “Triumph,” almost every single track the label released for a good long run of ten years or so was top notch. However, more recently, my love affair with Kompakt has lost its luster. Some of their newer signings don’t hit the spot the same way I counted on previously. This is perhaps inevitable; just as my tastes evolve, so do the Kompakt owners’. However, I am finding Kölsch’s debut full-length album to be immensely satisfying. It collects several of his various 12" tracks from the last couple of years with some new ones, and the entire release plays back almost like a DJ set; tracks don’t mix into one another fully, but they often beat-sync abruptly from one idea to another when the track markers turn over. He made a bit of a splash with “Loreley” a couple years ago, but honestly it’s not my favorite track of his (and actually one of my least favorites on here). But it does have in common his knack for galloping patterns of synths and melodic riffs, which come through loud and clear on “Wasserschutz,” “Oma,” and the vocal crossover song, “All That Matters.” “Goldfisch” kicks it off, though, with a joyous organ drone and tight snare/kick combo, setting the tone for what feels like a celebration of dance music across a variety of micro-genres. The measured blips of “Opa” work well against the squelchy lead that carries its refrain, while the piano riffs of “Der Alte” bridge the divide between Balearic disco and 90s house (both of which appeared originally on the Speicher 70 12"). And I still love the urgent yearning of “Silberpfeil” that falls in the center of the playlist, brought back from his Speicher 68 12", providing a healthy counterpoint to the light synth bounce of “Zig” and the more rude grind of “Eiswinter.” It’s all a bit scattered in terms of the sound and impression, but the unifying love of dancing ties it together nicely. It’s nice to hear Kölsch’s talents collected in one place with a solid collection of tracks well worth repeat listening.

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