Various Artists

Total 15

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Continuing its usually annual series of roundup compilations, Kompakt's Total 15 (actually the 14th release in the series, as the label superstitiously skipped 13) is a typically diverse mix of floor-fillers, album cuts, remixes, and exclusives. As usual, many of the album's highlights are from some of the label's founders and mainstays. Michael Mayer's "The Stickler" is a sparkling, percussive track with a smooth Rhodes keyboard sound. The track was originally released on a split 12" single along with Reinhard Voigt's "The Buddy," which also makes an appearance on Total 15; the sparse, steady track almost sounds like a less-noisy version of Container, with its industrial pulse and delay effects. John Tejada's "Two O One" (the leading cut from his third album for Kompakt, Signs Under Test) has synth melodies that simultaneously sound bright and cloudy, as well as light, glitchy breakbeats during the track's bridge. Superpitcher's slightly goofy "Freiherrr" resurrects the swinging schaffel beat used on many of Kompakt's older releases, covering it in spiraling, buzzing synths and layers of flutes. Dave DK's "Smukke Lyde" (from his debut album for Kompakt, Val Maira) is another highlight, showcasing his heavily detailed, mysterious production style. The compilation cools off a bit with some pop-leaning downtempo cuts bookending the second disc, of which Saschienne's hypnotic "Chambre Bleue" is the most intriguing. As with most of the Total series' double-disc volumes, there's a lot to digest here, but Kompakt's output has always covered a wide spectrum, making it hard to sum up a year's worth of its activity even in two and a half hours. Total 15 demonstrates Kompakt's reliability as well as its unpredictability.

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