It’s hard to get overly excited about yet another Pop Ambient instalment. After all Cologne’s Kompakt imprint has been churning the things out on an annual basis for well over a decade. But while it’s easy to take a jaded “been there done that” approach to the series the 2014 edition does have its share of charms.
The series lays out its usual mash of modern electronic music avant-classical pastoral pop and drone/noise enlisting Kompakt artists new and old — the latter most often stealing the show. Among them Pop Ambient regular Jörg Burger employs real-life acoustic guitars and pitch-shifted vocals to rework his 1992 “Aquamarine” into an eerily shaped drone-out under his Bionaut moniker. Kompakt co-founder Wolfgang Voigt revives his long-absent Gas moniker for a heady remix of the Field’s “Cupid’s Head” plus an epic solo track of his own. And following a six-year PA hiatus Ulf Lohmann returns to bookend the comp with its most straight-up pretty tracks weaving the sort of widescreen cinematic atmospheres M83 would kill for.
Do you need yet another Pop Ambient record in your collection? Probably not. But if you’re going to squeeze in one more PA14 is one of the stronger editions.