Includes download. With the cover artwork for Pop Ambient 2022, longtime Kompakt graphic artist Veronika Unland has once again outdone herself. Following the almost baroque, blood-red and jet-black, extremely physical sculptures of Pop Ambient 2021 (KOMP 161CD/KOM 430LP), which emerged from a dark, floral sea like bodies erect for dancing, the front of 2022 is adorned with a pastel-white form, intertwined, folded many times and crisscrossed with delicate shading, which seems to float on a pale pink background; soft, gentle waves woven from Venetian colors that leave the viewer puzzled: Is it a flower, a coral, a mollusk? Again, the current edition of the tradition-steeped compilation series curated by Wolfgang Voigt is about the persistent and ever-necessary definition of beauty, of reduction, of electronic music of heavy lightness and light heaviness, of ambient’s eternal promise of a state of physical and acoustic weightlessness and pops of redemption. And about the question why a never arbitrary combination of soundscape, drones, samples and loops, put together in a certain way, can create this feeling of warmth, depth and space — something three-dimensional, where the imagination feels at home as a fish in the water or a bird in the sky. A key aesthetic stimulus that sends all the senses into a slow glide and drift, after which your synapses feel like they’ve been bathed in essential oil. Next to Soul, Ambient is probably the most effective musical healing plant of mankind. Behind the aural test tubes, the who’s who of Pop Ambient is once again at work, led for the first time by the highly trafficked Californian duo Blank Gloss, whose debut album Melt this year was certified by The Guardian as nothing less than “heartaching beauty“. Yui Onodera‘s “Chrome” as well as “Kari”, a cooperation of Markus Guentner and Joachim Spieth, could also be imagined in the score of Denis Villeneuve‘s new film version of Dune — however, colleague Hans Zimmer managed that quite well without the three. After such wonderful and stylish contributions by Reich & Würden, Triola, and Thomas Fehlmann, the ear then lingers a bit longer on the ghostly “Weiht” by Morgen Wurde featuring Maria Estrella, a track like a temple of sound, a deep electronic immersion in a Japanese onsen. In this sea of unnamable time you could sink forever, but with the tracks of Andrew Thomas, Thore Pfeiffer, and Max Würden & Pepo Galán the journey slowly comes to an end.