Switched On – Various Artists: Total 21 (Kompakt)

total-kompakt-21

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Kompakt’s annual compilation series rolls on, but on hitting the coming of age number the Cologne label have decided to put it on a diet. Slimmed down to a single disc / four sides of vinyl, it is a leaner beast but still packs in 13 tracks that cast the net across the label’s output.

Seasoned Kompakt regulars such as John Tejada, Jürgen Paape, Voigt & Voigt, Gui Boratto and label founder Michael Mayer rub shoulders with new talent to these pages – Kollmorgen, The Bionaut and Nicky Elisabeth.

What’s the music like?

Kompakt’s approach to techno is always pleasingly varied, and this set of tracks spreads itself nicely across the tempo and emotional spectrum. It doesn’t take long for us to be transported to warmer climes in the company of Jürgen Paape, whose La Guitarra Romantica is dreamy and exotic. The same words could apply to Roman Flügel’s remix of Nicky Elisabeth’s Celeste, though in truth this is a magical piece of work, beautifully floated above the deep beats.

“I Am A Dancer!”, proclaims the track from Marc Romboy & C.A.R. of the same name, an assertive piece of work shaking its booty from the off, while Jonathan Kaspar’s Von Draussen also hits the tougher spot with its rolling drum track. John Tejada contributes some typically thoughtful and nicely woven techno on Spectral Progressions, while Voigt & Voigt do similar with darker shades on Nicht Mein Job.

Michael Mayer’s contribution Happy plays around with spatial effects rather well, as does Sascha Funke’s Fasson, working in a nice broken beat and airy synths for good measure.

Does it all work?

It does. The decision to slim down to a CD’s worth of tracks pays off – not that the previous Total series instalments were overlong – but it works well because it brings the focus in to some really good compositions. The Kompakt catalogue is still in good shape, it would seem!

Is it recommended?

It is indeed. One for the seasoned Kompakt fans, but also an effective introduction to the label if you’re late to their recent output.

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