Every year, the Kompakt label releases the latest volume in a series of compilations called Total. They gather up 12″ singles released throughout the year, and add a bunch of exclusive tracks. The exclusive tracks come out as a double LP, while the whole bunch — the singles and the new music — is available as a double CD or a collection of digital files via Kompakt’s Bandcamp page.
I’ve been following the series since Total 6, released in 2005. I am very far from being any kind of connoisseur or even a knowledgeable fan of electronic music. Once in a while, something catches my ear, most often in the realm of minimal, but aggressive techno. (Some of my favorite non-Kompakt artists at the moment are Relapso, Rødhåd, Paula Temple, and Tony Tyson.) There’s some of that on each Total compilation, but more often than not these are songs, sometimes even including vocals. In 2017, I interviewed one of Kompakt’s founders, Michael Mayer, about assembling the compilations. He explained that he views them almost as a yearbook, giving insight into where the label is at, while adding exclusive tracks to reward regular listeners. He also likes to bring in a selection of new artists each year, while also presenting work from veterans who’ve been with the label almost since its inception.
Total 19 has just been released, and it’s a typically solid entry in the series. There are some midtempo, even soft-focus tracks, and some loud, pounding ones, and while it’s very long — 26 tracks in two hours and 45 minutes — it flows smoothly and never bogs down. This playlist gathers some of my favorite tracks from the entire series, including four from Total 19.