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various / kompakt 100 / kompakt

Kompakt celebrates its 100th compilation by remixing the best classic tracks and making it fucking unbelievable again.
listen: pensum
listen: radeln
listen: zu dicht dran
listen: megamix

murcof / utopia / leaf

In 2002, Fernando Corona's debut as Murcof marked a major stylistic departure from his previous project, and Martes was hailed as a favorite of the year by many electronic music fans. As Terrestre, he had displayed a funky fusion of electronic and traditional music of his homeland, and received acclaim as a part of Tijuana's Nortec Collective. But as Murcof, Corona made a surprising change exchanging booty-shaking Tech-Mex for a more minimal direction merging modern classical and compositional elements with organic, atmospheric electronic soundscapes.

The Leaf label has just released an essential collection of the Mexican producer's more recent Murcof tracks, culling together two magnificent 12" singles -- 2003's "Ulysses" and this year's "Utopia" -- with exclusive new songs and also featuring a varied roster of re-mixers. The almost 76-minute collection begins with a flurry of strings; with its subtle orchestration and slow electronic swells, album opener "Ulysses" could have been part of a dark soundtrack for a Stanley Kubrick film. Later, Helge Sten's Deathprod remix gives the track a deeper, more ominous tone with a spacious wash of sounds, while the Fax rework (first heard on the "Utopia" 12") adds a pulse of clicks and cuts.

Each re-mixer puts their unique stamp to Murcof's organic compositions, from Jan Jelinek's grainy gurgles to Icarus' digital glitches and backwards manipulations of a piano. (Both producers rework the "Maiz" track.) Colleen creates a haunting ambience in "Muim" as the washed-out crescendos of strings and piano are stretched into minimal pulses of sounds that almost seem to breathe, while Sutekh's reworking of "Memoria (also featured on the "Utopia" 12") is an indescribable collage of organic tones and skittering techstep. Of course, the two exclusive Murcof tracks, "Una" and "Ultimatum," prove Corona to be a master of creating cinematic electronica. During the latter, the factory-like churn of electronic beats further magnifies the almost silent spaces between the piano and strings. Quiet and often disquieting, there's plenty of room for your imagination to take hold.
listen: memoria
listen: una


junior boys / last exit / kin

Junior Boys are the next big electronic pop sensation. Jeremy Greenspan's songwriting is heart felt without appearing cliché, his voice is soft/waspy sexy. This is one of the best albums of the year.
listen: junior boys / birthday
listen: junior boys / high come down


fourcolor / water mirror / apestaartje

Keiichi Sugimoto had two great records out in 2003 with his groups Minamo (on Apestaartje) and Fonica (on Tomlab). The majority of his fantastic new solo album as Fourcolor was created using only the guitar as source material. He processes his instrument as if it were going through the phase changes of water, making it virtually unrecognizable as a string instrument. You can practically hear the sounds freezing, slowly melting, then evaporating, and finally condensing back into a liquid state. The compositions develop gradually and take on a gentle, barely perceptible pulse. Like a lot of the best electronic music, it's deceptively simple.

The final track is a twenty-three minute long soundtrack to Jun Miyazaki's award-winning short film Frontire, which screened in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The piece is more or less in the same vein as the music before it, but it also incorporates heavily-edited field recordings and found sounds to tremendous effect.

Water Mirror is subtle, gorgeous, and hypnotizing. Its warm and resonant tones will fill any room in which it's played. Those of you who are already familiar with Brooklyn's Apestaartje label know that their releases don't disappoint, and this is one of their finest yet. If you liked the latest albums from Fennesz or Mitchell Akiyama, you're going to love Fourcolor. Water Mirror is an absolute necessity for anyone who enjoys minimal electronic music.
listen: thomas fourcolor / dip
listen: fourcolor / stream