Various Artists

Pop Ambient 2003

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Just like the first two volumes of the series, Pop Ambient 2003 is an ideal companion for the end of a cold winter's day, when you're finally able to rest your weary haunches 'neath the hearth and decompress to distant, attenuated melodies with even more subtle rhythmic structures. Unlike Pop Ambient 2002, these fireside favorites are delivered primarily from Kompakt's own stable of producers (nine out of ten are on Kompakt proper) and, most significantly, there's a wider range of sounds spread across this particular hour. Both tracks from Klimek's 2002 12" are here; spare twinkles of guitar and humming drones undulate within an echo chamber on "Milk and Honey," while the chamber is more cavernous on "Sun(rise)," a slightly brighter production with similar features. Jörg Burger provides his second successive Pop Ambient gem as Triola with "Leuchtturm," which seems to melt a field recording from a vast valley into soft thrums and smears from synthetic hand drums and string-like elements. And it wouldn't be a Pop Ambient compilation without at least one epic track full of slowly shifting tufts of fluff -- Markus Guentner provides exactly that with the eight-minute "Express Yourself." Guentner also closes out the disc with "Chrom," another moment of brilliance that approximates the result of recording a distant symphony while inside a boiler room full of slit valves. Kompakt has clearly become unstoppable when operating in this mode. They have the market cornered; you know that's the case when ambient house inventors the Orb pitch in with a track that blends in stylistically but doesn't rate with the highlights of one of their compilations. [The vinyl version contains only six tracks and sticks to selections that weren't made available on previous Kompakt 12" releases.]

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