- Kompakt has never been shy about its fondness for trance. It's also long had a thing for pop, though you had to listen closely to catch it in the label's early days. Kompakt's love for those genres has become more obvious as the years have passed. In 2007, Jörg Burger and Wolfgang Voigt released an EP titled Bring Back Trance. Plenty of subsequent Kompakt releases have been intensely melodic in a way that would have been unthinkable in the label's more minimal-minded era. This direction has been most apparent on the label's annual Total series, to the point where it's evolved into a formula. That's not necessarily a knock—any long-running compilation is bound to feel a bit predictable. Total 17 doesn't break the mold, nor does it try. Instead, Kompakt refines the compilation's sound with more focus than ever.
The first disc is mostly on the pop end of the Kompakt spectrum, with emotional hooks generally set within a deep house framework. The wistful melodies and instrumentation on Nu U Orchestra's "Ambrosia," with its twangy guitars and near-whisper vocals, and the shimmering keys and warm synth strings of Voigt & Voigt's "Tribute To A Greek God" are among the compilation's most seductive. Some tracks are more assertive, like Sebastopol's "Flash Pool," which adds low-end heft and a cowbell to breathy sighs. Vermont's hazy, supremely chilled "Ufer" takes the opposite tack. It feels as though it might disperse into the ether within minutes.
The second disc is reserved for the collection's trancier tunes. Total 17's vision of that sound is on the introspective side, but it still has some oomph. Christian Nielsen's "Hard Times" gets its initial thrust from a xylophone-esque 16th-note pattern before transitioning to a whooshing, regal lead. A rubber-band synth does the heavy lifting on Demian's "Milestars." Occasionally the trance aspects are overdone, as with Clarian's "Ankh," a tune that leans a bit too heavily on harps and heavenly choirs, or the acidic "PUSH" by Kölsch. But even these tracks have their charms, and are brimming with a nostalgic feel that's hard to dislike.
There are moments that don't fit neatly into Total 17's pop/trance dichotomy. There's the slow-burn lope of Weval's "Metazoa," the big-room theatrics of Sasha's "Out Of Time" and the foggy atmosphere that runs through Dave DK's remix of The Orb's "4am Exhale." Kompakt could've cast its net a little wider—a touch of, say, techno would have been a welcome punctuation mark. But when the pure heartbreak of "Ashamed" or the graceful swoon of Laurent Garnier's "1-4 Doctor C'est Chouette" arrive, you're reminded that Kompakt is simply playing to its strengths: music that is bursting with emotion, and is not afraid to show it.
01. Weval - Metazoa
02. Superpitcher - In My Head feat. Fantastic Twins
03. Jürgen Paape - Always Disko
04. Thomas & Mayer - 25
05. Voigt & Voigt - Tribute To A Greek God
06. Sebastopol - Flash Pool
07. T.Raumschmiere - Jaguar
08. Nu U Orchestra - Ambrosia
09. Chris Klopfer - Ashamed (Raquet & Stetter Edit)
10. Max Scholpp - The Dream
11. Vermont - Ufer
01. Sasha - Out Of Time feat. Poliça
02. Laurent Garnier - 1-4 Doctor C'est Chouette
03. Kölsch - PUSH
04. Clarian - Ankh
05. Demian - Milestars
06. Patrice Bäumel - Sorcery
07. Danny Daze & Shokh - Aire
08. Christian Nielsen - Hard Times
09. Locked Groove - Dawn
10. The Orb - 4am Exhale (Dave DK Accellerator Mix)