Various Artists

Pop Ambient 2014

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Volume 14 of the Kompakt label's Pop Ambient series contains a surprising amount of material that is aggressive, almost piercing -- certainly less lulling -- compared to gentler series highlights like Donnacha Costello's "Dry Retch" and Triola's "AG Penthouse." Ulf Lohmann, who reappears after an extended absence, provides the opening and closing tracks, both of which resemble extended introductions to mid-'80s rock anthems. Under his birth name, Wolfgang Voigt contributes the challenging "Rückverzauberung 8," all whipping whirs. Just after that, as Gas, Voigt reduces the Field's "Cupid's Head" to reverberant gusts, its vocal sample barely audible. Mikkel Metal's "Patience" is among the few series tracks containing a beat, though a spidery guitar line and electro zaps are more prominent. Jörg Burger dusts off one of his Bionaut tracks ("Aquamarine"), which is over 20 years old, and transforms it into lovely/haunted space folk. There's a handful of selections with high replay value, including Simon Scott of Slowdive's swooning "Für Betty" (though not quite as entrancing as Pop Ambient 2012's "For Martha"), Thomas Fehlmann's darkly twinkling "Treatment," and Marsen Jules' shimmering "The Philosophers Trap."

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