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Various Artists Pop Ambient 2010

Even though it's a decade old, Kompakt's ambient franchise still manages to sound fresh, avoiding a tragic shift towards becoming hipster spa music or a Pure Moods for the techno set. While the template and talent has varied, the key is making sure that pop remains an important part of the equation. A melancholy-yet-romantic vibe stains the playful melodies and atmospheric bliss of this year's installment, whether it's the wispy, mandolin-like notes of Wolfgang Voigt's "Zither Und Horn," BVDUB's 17-minute closing track, or Triola's "Schildergasse," the sound of an M83 crescendo on valium. Much like "The Sound of One Lip Kissing" by Marsen Jules, where clusters of notes gracefully collide and decay in time, each song is filled with sweet harmonies and slow-motion swells.

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