VA: Tour De Traum X - Mixed By Riley Reinhold

The product of six months of curatorship by Riley Reinhold, Tour De Traum X features a staggering amount of Traum music: there are forty tracks in all, which can be listened to as distinct cuts or as two-hour mixes assembled by Reinhold, the first from the opening twenty tracks and the second the remainder. Even better, there's an airy and breezy quality to the music that makes it feel like material freed from the insular darkness of the nightclub and released into the European countryside. It's far easier to picture the tracks booming from a car stereo than shaking the walls of a Berlin club, and in that regard one might well interpret the titular tour as alluding to an outdoors journey as much as exploration of the Köln-based label's catalogue.

The tracks certainly don't lack for bottom end, but they're also refreshingly light in feel. Complementing that general vibe are ambient and chill-out cuts, such as Fabrik Way's stirring piano-and-strings setting “Logos,” Cosma Castiglia's soothing dreamscape “Autostrada Intergalattica,” and Mario Hammer And The Lonely Robot's misty "Misodoctakleidist,” that offer respites from the rhythm-based material. The music's free-spirted vibe asserts itself the moment “Exploring” by Bristol producer Epistrophe Smith inaugurates the collection with six jubilant minutes of ear-catching vocal and guitar treatments. Bubbly cuts by Loui Cleghorn (“De-Facto,” “Vai Morrer”) and Hannes Rasmus (“Eine Leichte Brise Weht Über Das Sonnendeck”) keep the carefree feel alive, and there are house and techno body-movers, too (Koelle's “Purple Orbit,” Olaf Stuut's “Spirograph,” Joel Forsberg's “Vi Lyfter I Motvind”).

Of the forty tracks, some stand out for one reason or another. At ten minutes, Dominik Eulberg's “Meerjungfrauenportemonnaie” is one of the longest cuts, but the ride's an infectiously funky one and well worth the time. On a slightly different tip, Ashwin Khosa threads material lifted from what sounds like a performance by one of Miles's early acoustic outfits into “Jazzminder,” whereas Lambert Windges' crackled-drenched jaunt “How the Light Falls” riffs on the Schaffel style Kompakt pushed years ago. Of the outliers, it's probably Ian Max Mauch's “Embers” that's the most extreme for having more in common with field recordings-based ambient dronesculpting than anything club-related.

Refinement and sophistication are emphasized as opposed to grit and grime, and the material sometimes exudes a space-disco feel without adhering to the literal style of the genre. There's a panoramic multi-dimensionality to certain tracks, too, that elevates them above the norm and distinguishes them as artful productions of ambitious scope (Amentia's “Hauru,” Voltereta's “Castigo Al Mar”). On this release at least, Traum's music appears intent on lifting the spirits than dragging it down, and as a capsule document of the label's current sound, it's hard to imagine any collection bettering Tour De Traum X on that count.

December 2015