Various Artists

Total 1

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The first of Kompakt's consistently great Total series, 1999's Total 1 also doubles as the first true document of the label's unique stamp on German techno. Kompakt's first compilation, Koln Kompakt, actually focused on related labels like Profan, Auftrieb, and New Trance Atlantic, with none of the tracks coming from prior Kompakt releases. (The first Kompakt 12" was actually released ten months after Koln.) Total 1, however, reveals a Trojan horse of sorts from the label, with numerous fine producers jumping out of the woodwork to flex their muscles. Most of these tracks are from the initial batch of singles from the label; the remainder originate elsewhere. On one end of the Total 1 spectrum you have minimal house; on the other end, there's experimental techno. Some tracks stick to one of the two poles and others find a happy medium dead in the center. Jurgen Paape's opening, "How Great Thou Art," playfully pits jumbled percussive elements against a clearly dancefloor-aimed beat; it also joyfully nicks the warped piano of David Bowie's Berlin-era "Beauty and the Beast" and pulls off something deceptively catchy. M. Mayer's "Heaven" mixes an ultra-deep dub riddim with hypnotic melodic keyboards. Dettinger's "Blond" sounds just as smacked-out as an early Chain Reaction track; the bizarre whirring and pulsing is enough to make a fully alert sober person feel as if they're just waking after a deep slumber or heavy medication. Top it all off with artwork that looks like a 12-person game of Connect Four, and there you have it -- one solid investment that'll have you wanting more. [The track listing of the double-vinyl version differs significantly than this CD version; there are three less tracks, but four of them can't be found on the other format. Sneaky.]

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