Another year arrives and we all have to do our taxes again. But on the upside, Kompakt has released another one of their annual Pop Ambient collections. As was the case for past compilations, the 2013 entry is more ambient than pop. The door for experimentation is left wide open, and it’s because of this that Marsen Jules takes the cake this time for contributing the most memorable track. “Point of No Return”, at the halfway point, becomes just that. A soft meditative bed is jostled awake by sharp stabs from another echoey pad, one far more abrasive than any other number featured here.
For once, Wolfgang Voigt’s track is the one that doesn’t stand out to me. “Rückverzauberung 7” just has too abstract a DNA to crack, though it the rootless nature provides the listener with a new dimension of ambient. And when I saw that Jörg Burger and Matias Aguayo teamed up as Terrapin for “Cirrus Minor”, I actually thought to myself “it’s probably not the Floyd cover.” Wrong I was. Lyrics and all are present and accounted for. Pop Ambient 2013 is not consistently excellent, but it is consistently exploratory, which beats grappling with W2s any day.