Ulf Lohmann

Because Before

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Excepting the mostly dancefloor-friendly Total 3 compilation, 2001 witnessed Cologne's Kompakt label blitzing the bins with a number of ambient releases. The ball began to roll with Pop Ambient 2001, a compilation that introduced Markus Guentner and Ulf Lohmann to those who hadn't kept up with the label's spate of 12" releases. Later in the year, full-lengths from both producers hit the racks, maintaining Kompakt's rock-solid reputation and further plugging pigeonholes along the way. Lohmann's Because Before is a CD-only combination of two EPs released earlier in the year, and it shows that if there's any one producer who most exemplifies Kompakt's self-coined pop ambient pseudo-style, it's Lohmann. These 11 untitled tracks average in four minutes of length, often boasting radiant washes of swoon-worthy laptop ambient. After several plays, one realizes that the disc plays out like a pop record; three or four tracks stick out more than the remainder, much like the way radio-friendly singles can be more easily flagged on such a thing. And the disc isn't short of the equivalent of album tracks either. In particular, the closing track could be the best thing here without being among the catchiest. Truly stultifying in its sadness, its sullen synth tones and equally mournful atmospheric swabs convey the type of feeling that only comes with dealing with a crippling loss.

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