- The first thing you'll notice scanning the tracklist for Pop Ambient 2014 is the element of throwback. Ulf Lohmann returns to the annual collection for the first time since 2008, contributing two swaths of narcotic bliss. Jörg Burger appears as The Bionaut, albeit remixed by Triola. Throw in contributions by Kompakt stalwarts like Thomas Fehlmann, Marsen Jules and Wolfgang Voigt (under his real name and as Gas), and it seems like Kompakt's looking ever-fondly back at its early to mid-'00s heyday.
Gone, for the most part, are the modern classical leanings of artists like Sylvain Chaveau, or the black-hearted metallic scrapings the Fun Years. Instead, Pop Ambient 2014 is the fluffiest, most cushioned set of zone-outs in the series' recent history. Ulf Lohmann's "Sicht" puffs out a silky, chiming melody, while Thomas Fehlmann's "Treatment" sounds like a remix of Chopin, with sea-drift pianos pressed against its wind-soaked drones. Cologne Tape turn in an archaic bit of urban pastoralia with "Moorpark," and Voigt's "Ruckverzauberung 8" creates the sensation of staring out from warmth at a blizzard.
For those who have been with Kompakt since its infancy, perhaps the most eye-catching thing here is Voigt's return as Gas. His remix of The Field's "Cupid's Head" slips from the silt-filled sway of "Ruckverzauberung 8" into an almost sulfurous drone-scape, with Axel Willner's blurry vocals buried deep in the mix, his summery synths leaving a smudge of color on the otherwise greyscale creation. It's like a muffled symphony heard through an oxygen mask—a perfect summation of the retro-minded oddities collected on Pop Ambient 2014.
01. Ulf Lohmann - Sicht
02. Thomas Fehlmann - Treatment
03. Mikkel Metal - Patience
04. Marsen Jules - The Philosophers Trap
05. Cologne Tape - Moorpark
06. Simon Scott - Für Betty
07. The Bionaut - Aquamarine (Triola Mix)
08. Wolfgang Voigt - Rückverzauberung 8
09. The Field - Cupid's Head (Gas Ambient Mix)
10. Ulf Lohmann - Pcc