POP AMBIENT 2004
||"Audrey" Ulf Lohmann
||"Damit Du Endlich Weisst" Markus Guentner
Yesssssssss! My favorite time of year has arrived and the fourth
annual installment of Kompakt's "Pop Ambient" compilation
series finally graces my CD player. Freed from the almighty 4/4
beat, the artists are left to roam the ambient universe to open
the doors marked "Somewhere Else." All of the artists
here do this through their own unique interpretations of what
a pop song can be.
Perhaps no one on the enormous Kompakt roster embodies this more
than Ulf Lohmann, Mr. Pop Ambient himself. His latest, ''Audrey"
is his most sumptuous track ever, the most stunning on this comp,
and screams for new adjectives to be created, for ''gorgeous''
and ''beautiful'' just don't do it justice. But, I am getting
ahead of myself. Setting the mood for "2004" is Klimek,
with a cosmic, spacious guitar-suspended-in-time piece called
"Standing on a Beach (Gun in my Hand Mix)." Nope, not
a Cure cover of "Killing an Arab." Dazzling, regardless.
All's "Logopedie 99" is an older track culled from the
last entry of the hard to find (Kompakt sub-label) Kriesel 7''
series. I had hoped for a new "Alltag" (cause last year's
"Alltag 5" was, um... groundbreaking and insanely good!!),
but this one, an ethereal, shimmering cymbal/synth/feedback drone,
works perfectly in the scheme of things here.
Representing New Zealand is newcomer Andrew Thomas, and he's
the missing link between Erik Satie and Dettinger. His two tracks
are taken from his brand new debut, the awesome "Fearsome
Jewel," and showcase his tickling, tinkling piano gestures
submerged in soft, slightly-off beats, all lusciously dipped in
reverb. Another newcomer is Japan's Pass Into Silence, and his
sweet lullaby "Sakura" will only whet appetites for
more from him in the future (and if I am not mistaken, he'll have
a full-length come springtime on Kompakt). In my opinion, the
best solo work Jorg Burger has ever done is under his Triola alias,
especially on this PopAm contribution (see the wonderful waltz
PopAm veteran Markus Guentner's ''Damit Du Endlich Weisst,....''
is anchored by a creeping, dark bass line and his trademark hazy
minor key synth. It took me a minute to realize that there's a
beat, barely there and super slow, and it changed the whole song
for me. It also made me realize once again just how good this
guy is. In fact, all these dudes craft sonic treasures of such
beauty, that to dismiss Ambient Music as some hokey New Age thing
would be a crime, really. (Hey, I've seen people cringe from the
word "ambient"... oh well, they're missing out!)
Ireland's Donnacha Costello ends the affair with an inspired,
12-minute track of guitar melancholia that becomes entirely swallowed
by a lambent glow of amplifier hum and tape hiss. Sigh. What did
I do once it was all over? Well, I just played it again, and again,
and again. Heavenly, amazing, and obviously recommended. [DD]