Various Artists – Kompakt Total 14 (Kompakt)


Grappling with the intricacies of how to remain innovative or maintain relevance is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing music labels across the genre divide. Demonstrating accessibility to artists and developing ingenuity through exclusive inclusions are proving key to their ongoing success. Once loyal now rather agnostic consumers are inundated by choice and diversity. What then are labels forced to rely on to ensure their sales are maintained? Seemingly their strength of discovery combined with credible history for unearthing the change-makers of eras.

Given this constantly changing context, compilations put together  by labels are for me becoming quite risky. It was with inward trepidation that I volunteered to road test Cologne Label: Kompakt’s latest foray – the rebirth of their once annual compilation series: Total. Promising to meld the best of a bumper birthday year in 2013 with an array of emerging label-mates in 2014 seems like a great idea to any fan of the Kompakt soundscape, myself included, but, my fear ahead of listening to Total 14 was whether it is  an innovative offering.

Delivered over two discs this Total collection is it should be noted - well constructed. The first disc (as anticipated) positions itself with the more dancier, up tempo tracks and it is Blond:ish’ track “Wunderkammer’ which could be argued to set the scene for the collection. A song title which translates in English to mean:a place where a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited, this track is by far my favourite to be added by Kompakt. Other anthem-style inclusions come from the consistently solid producer Gui Boratto whose track featuring. Coma And Hell “Take Control’ lends a rise early on, and the pop wonder of “Delta’ by Superpitcher is a highlight in its orchestration too.

Beyond the first ten tracks though my initial fear is realised. A listening ear begins to falter as nothing but a lot of filler is served.  Despite Kompakt’s proclamations of exclusive material from its label big guns Jürgen Paape “Heuriger’; Voigt & Voigt “Tischlein Deck Dich’ and even The Field who lends a track from his recent album, this comp seems to run in circles.  It is as times as if ze Germans are low on ze wow factor – leaving the listener feeling lack lustre. What Kompakt have assembled here is safe, but in 2014 and into the future will safe continue to cut through? My guess is probably not.


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I find myself in a 'looping state of mind' more often than not.