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Pop Ambient 2011

(Kompakt; US: 1 Feb 2011; UK: 31 Jan 2011)

Now that the German electronica label Kompakt has almost a dozen of these under its belt, you pretty much know what to expect from a Pop Ambient compilation. That would be slow-moving, occasionally oscillating, moodiness performed primarily on synthesizers. The dozen tracks here are mostly placid to the point of sounding like thick, matte paint slowly oozing out of the speakers. Many of the usual suspects are accounted for, but there are also a couple eyebrow-raisers. Ex-Einstürzende Neubauten and Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld, recording with Alvo Nota as ANBB, turns in the rather creepy, somewhat tribal “Bernsteinzimmer”. Esteemed producer Ewan Pearson, trading under the name Bhutan Tiger Rescue, provides a highlight with the Steve Reich-like, chiming beauty of “Beginner’s Waltz”, proving that ambient can be evocative, too. If only more of Pop Ambient 2011 followed suit.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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