Various Artists
Katapult
Karat
2003
B-



much has been made of the hold that Cologne house has on the dance scene in select quarters. With a strong chain of labels, even stronger distribution and a high-quality run of releases Playhouse, Perlon, Kompakt and Trapez have set the bar for continued advancement of the micro-house music genre.

Conversely, France has been known, in the mainstream eye, as a particularly vibrant home for the sort of maximalist house that Daft Punk made in the mid and late 90s. Despite these two dichotomous narratives forming around the respective dance cultures of each, there have been signs of cross-fertiization both ways. The relevant one here? Karat’s label sampler entitled Katapult (presumably for the leaps and bounds that these artists have, and continue to, made in their peculiar brand of house.

The album starts slowly but begins to gather steam by the start of Aysam’s contribution: the sine-wave led, dub bassline buoyed “Starry Return”. By the middle of the song, Aysam is confident enough with his compositon that he switches rhythm mid-stream, embarking on a short schaffel detour. But tempo change and artistic innovation aren’t the important things here. You came to dance. And for the songs that will facilitate that.

Try Cabanne’s “Karashik” which eagerly imprints its hard hitting house beat into your skull amid scraping and scratching backgrounds and a slick melody that attaches itself irrevocably to the beat. Or “Funk Me Please” by Automat, which serves up a healthy does of disorienting electro stabs arranged around a funked-up bass. Or even “Fall Down Rise-Up” which begins, out of the gate, as an unrelenting banger, ready to annihilate anything that gets in its path.

But, once you quiet these tracks down, there lies the same sort of complexity found in their German counterparts. Micro-house’s calling card, the magnifying of sonic elements to their illogical extreme, is in full effect on nearly all of the tracks here, making for a richly rewarding headphone listen as well. This is most apparent closer to the end of the album with Ark’s micro-sampled “Daiment” and the moist melodics of Mikael Weill’s “Alcove”.

Micro-house, alive and well in France. While it should come as no surprise that there are now pockets of post-IDM House music flourishing in locales outside of the German stronghold, it bodes well for a genre that is continually accused of its death or near-death. With Katapult, we can once again say that dance music has a lot more of substance to say before its purported death.
Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-04-16
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