The house wall of Kompakt, © Tourismus NRW e.V.


From the Bel­gian quarter to the world

Kompakt – as a label, booking agency and record shop – is the epitome of the “Sound of Cologne”. This sound, which was developed in the 1990s, is based on clear beats, reduced vocals, if there are vocals at all, and little melody. This is not big space techno, or hard Berlin club sounds, or high-speed beats like the ones in Frankfurt, and there are no star DJs or raves with famous guests. This is often called “minimal techno”, but ultimately, the “Sound of Cologne” is so diverse, playing with archival samples, scraps of German hit songs and abstract sounds, that it sounds just as wide-ranging as the many people that play it.

The sound began in the early 1990s. It was then, together with his friend Jörg Burger, Jürgen Paape and his brother Reinhard Voigt, that Wolfgang Voigt founded the “Delirium” record shop. Here, the popular national and international techno records were sold, as well as a large number of rare and obscure recordings. At the same time, the artists also produced their own vinyl records, which together with the influence of many other musicians and labels such as a-musik and in locations such as the Stadtgarten or the Brussels Square gradually led to the formation of the charismatic “Sound of Cologne”. During the course of the 1990s, the sound was discovered and celebrated in England, Italy and the US. Cologne became a “Mecca of electronic music” and since then – particularly thanks to Kompakt and a-musik – it has offered a countermodel to the Berlin electro sound. Voigt, Paape, Thomas Mayer, Justus Köhncke and many others who are celebrating 25 years of Kompakt this year, have become an essential part of the Cologne club scene.

During the day, it’s fun to visit the hidden kompakt record store, which is now within sight of the former Basement. Here, every record presented reflects the influence of the artists, and every specially displayed book promises to be a good read. This is a great way to discover and hear the astonishing variety of everything that makes up the “minimal techno” Cologne sound.

Further information:
Werderstraße 15-19, 50672 Cologne


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