As the new year arrives, it’s time for another volume in Kompakt’s ongoing ‘Pop Ambient’ compilation series, and this latest selection of exclusive tracks continues the approach followed by its predecessor, with veteran names making an appearance alongside a brace of newer artists. Those familiar with previous volumes in the series will also know what to expect from the ‘pop ambient’ tag, in this case predominantly melodic ambient soundscapes veering more towards the accessible side of the genre. As with preceding volumes, the emphasis falls upon smoothly refined sounds, with virtually nothing approaching a beat in evidence. Werden & Pfeiffer’s ‘Feinherb’ typifies the sort of serene, ebbing landscapes being explored here as distant ambient vocal trails arc over slowed down guitar chords and swelling sampled strings, the sudden appearance of twinkling bells in the foreground rousing things out of their lulling haze.
Sicker Man & Gregor Schwellenbach’s magnificent ‘Turns’ meanwhile builds brooding atmosphere as rich orchestral strings swell against feathery guitar chords and fog-like layers of reverb in what’s easily one of the beautifully understated moments to be found here. Elsewhere, The Orb’s ‘Alpine Dawn’ opts for lush sample collaging, evoking a sense of space dub as eerie orchestral chords waft against flecks of rippling guitar and ebbing minimalist electronics, before Leandro Fresco’s reworking of Dave DK’s ‘Veira’ ushers in the closest thing to a rhythm here as muted kickdrums slowly thud away beneath refracted-sounding bells and weathered ambient loops. Another characteristically refined volume in the ‘Pop Ambient’ series, with the exclusive nature of the previously unreleased tracks here adding to the appeal.