Release Date: Aug 21, 2015
Record label: Kompakt
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Club/Dance, Minimal Techno, Tech-House
Another year, another installment of Kompakt's Total compilations series, and by now we generally know what to expect—a beyond-solid collection of cuts from the label's old guard and new jacks, brimming with a bevy of favorites from the label's recent discography along with a smart selection of unreleased cuts. And while this yearly bounty doesn't quite yeild the shock-of-the-new, holy-shit-how-good-is-this-label frisson that the first couple of Totals may have given some of us—after all, we all know how exceptional Kompakt is by now, and after hearing about a zillion label comps over the course of a lifetime, it takes a lot to truly wow listeners—it would be a huge mistake for house and techno lovers to take the series for granted. Sure, there may have been a few editions, during a period a few years back when the label seemed a bit unsure if itself, that could have been winnowed down from two CDs to a single disc.
Known for its unwavering quality, Kompakt's long-running Total series continues to deliver a glimpse into the Cologne-based label's current direction, offering up a slate of recent favourites and unreleased gems from acts like Superpitcher, Gui Boratto, Michael Mayer, Blond:ish and John Tejada. Right from Audion's "Dem Howl," which features vocals from Troels Abrahamsen, the compilation shuffles between vocal-driven melodic numbers to more nuanced techno tracks like Michael Mayer's "Humm," which is anchored by a thick, gauzy bass line that characterizes the second half of the song. Cuts like "Skin & Bones" by Terranova or Matias Aguayo's "Run Away from the Sun" strike a careful balance between the label's carefree approach to the dance floor and its underlying techno aesthetic, without sacrificing any of the momentum needed to keep the party going as the sun rises.
Kompakt's extensive catalogue is full of era-defining releases, but only a few of the previous instalments of their annual compilation series have truly captured the moment. This year's addition, though, bucks the recent trend with a consistent selection of leftfield tech-house and vocal-led electronica.As usual, label co-founder Michael Mayer and the Voigt brothers lead a cast of long-term mainstays, with Matthew Dear and Agoria among the high-profile guests. Sure, it might be the same old names working within the confines of their signature sounds, but 'Total 15' presents Kompakt's current roster in vintage form.Check out one of the standout tracks from the album below.
Prior to its 20th anniversary, Kompakt appeared to be in the creative doldrums. The last few Total compilations felt tentative and self-indulgent, dipping into indie-rock and sketchy electronica. The Cologne label was sounding tired and unsure of itself.Perhaps a time out was in order. After the renewed vigor of Total 14, this latest edition confirms the label's renaissance.
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.