Various Artists

Total 5

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For the fifth consecutive August, Kompakt tied together their recent highlights, some exclusives, and a couple teasers for yet another Total. Considering the level of consistency maintained since inception, the Cologne label might as well take its place alongside the mightiest of independent dance labels. How many of those labels have had a five-year run as impressive as this one, with such a bounty of top-rate, diverse material? The only disappointment with the label's latest crop is the low percentage of vocal tracks; while the roster of producers appeared to be employing a more vocal/dance-pop oriented approach as the years wore on, recent times have witnessed a bit of a reprieve. Even so, there's M. Mayer's "Speaker," a creepy Chicago-style house track that shows the producer taking on the role of Green Velvet's nicer, less paranoid younger brother. J. Burger and Wolfgang Voigt's remix of Phong Sui's "Wintermute" transforms a borderline twee indie electronic song from the Teil 1 compilation into a light, summery stomp. On the instrumental end, the biggest highlight is Justus Köhncke's "Homogen," a moody house track of sample-heavy disco-funk that could double as a missing link from Daniel Wang's mid-'90s Balihu catalog. The best patch on the disc is the closing three tracks, all of which are stunners, from Thomas Fehlmann, Mikkel Metal, and Jonas Bering. Each one proves in its own way that mind-altering, nonderivative dub-infused techno continues to be made in the wake of Basic Channel's pioneering/standard-setting glory years. Given the strength of Kompakt's second Schaffelfieber package, released just over a month prior to this, it's even more impressive that Total 5 makes for one of 2003's best dance-music compilations, unmixed or mixed. Needless to say, the first Total-less August will be a very sad one.

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