Review Summary: The definition of hit-and-miss.
When executed properly, both techno and ambient music can be an interesting experience. The former can be intriguing and danceable, while the latter can be a soothing, pathos-driven work. However, both genres can end up to be immense failures. Techno music can easily become focused on programmed instruments and “complimented” by auto-tuned vocals, and the latter genre oftentimes becomes a nonsensical arrangement of tedious noises. So, the tenth release in the Pop Ambient
series could easily fly on either side of the fence. The latest installment could be a jocular mess or a series of intriguing compositions. While it certainly doesn't play into the recently popular mainstream techno fad, it does have its share of terrible tracks. However, to balance these mistakes, there are a handful of aural gems.
DJ Koze's “Bodenweich” is one of the better tracks here. By combining electronic noises and padded keyboard chords, this track comes out as one of the more intriguing and stronger tracks this compilation has to offer. However, nothing compares to the epic “Will You Know Where To Find Me”. This inclusion by Brock Van Wey (aka: bvdub) innovates the typical chorus in an exciting way. The fragments of diva-noise are beautiful, and make the album's weak points all the more measly.
Oftentimes this album comes out as overly monotonous. Repeated samples may be extended for absurd lengths without direction or a mode of piquing the listener's interest. Instead of the 4/4 time intensity and the granular noise working together, they are often used to the compilation's disadvantage. This is either because the elements are separate and never combine, or because their inclusion is unnecessary. “Glen Coe” is an unsteady and dull track, and “The Sound Of One Lip Kissing” is a distracting start to the compilation. The latter track has melodies that seem to be at war with each other, and leave those who witness it just begging for it all to end. The overtly simple rhythms do not come to the tracks' defense either. Several of these tracks just seem to bear no effect on the listener. Because of this, many of the tracks become forgettable, and subsequently so does this album.
Rather than embrace the positives, this compilation album cancels every positive aspect with a negative one. For every “Bodenweich”, there is an unsettling, inept drone track that makes you want to separate all the fantastic bvdub pieces from the missteps. In short, Pop Ambient 2010
comes out as a mediocre electronic compilation that combines the most irritating and the most exquisite forms of ambience. Hopefully, the compilation's beginnings of the new decade are not a precursor for what is to come. For if it is, any potential here will be ignored, thus creating a series of average compilations.