Various Artists
Katapult Vol. 2 - A Karat Mix By Krikor


hile the major German microhouse labels are seemingly concentrated on releasing numerous variants on the Keta House style, 12”’s throughout the rest of the continent are busy tearing at the seams of house, pushing it into interesting new directions that have nothing to do with grog-house. Take France’s Karat Records, for example. By putting Ark, Krikor, and Cabanne into what seem like long-term contracts, the label has cultivated a discernable sound throughout its twenty releases.

Identifying the best words to describe said sound, however, is the hard part. On a surface level, the music owes a good deal to Akufen’s micro-sampling techniques. Many of the tracks that appear on Katapult Vol. 2 - A Karat Mix By Krikor use the nonsensical morphemes of cut-up voices as a garnishing around their bass-heavy compositions. But to bring up Akufen is to ignore the fact that the bass here is a much dirtier proposition than Leclair’s scrubbed landscapes. It comes out as more of a farting noise than anything else on nearly anything Ark touches, and it certainly doesn’t sound much better on Lexdinamo’s “Iky.”

Katapult Vol. 2, which follows in the grand tradition of other such label mixes like Bis Neun (Areal) and Selection 2 (Trapez), is split into two portions. The opening salvo is eight tracks and twenty-five minutes long and features almost solely Krikor and Ark. The results are, as you might expect, strikingly similar and strikingly good. Both artists have worked together in the unimaginatively titled KrikArk project and offer up the sort of attention to the smallest details that help make them the superstars of the label. The opening “Approach” by Ark is a sort of by-the-numbers primer of square-wave bass, truncated vocal samples, and a melody built from a severely cramped four note squiggle of a synthesizer. Almost an afterthought, really.

The second half of the mix, broken up by a ten-second interlude, is nearly double the size of the first and is generally a smoother ride than its predecessor. Synth pads are allowed to stretch out to create counterpoint, basslines get smoother, and the label unleashes the closest it may ever get to an anthem (Mikael Weill’s 10cc homage “Hector”). Not coincidentally, Weill has never technically released anything on the label outside of tracks on the two Katapult compilations.

Much like the aforementioned mentioned label mixes, Katapult Vol. 2 both gains its strength and its weakness from its self-imposed construction. But unlike both Trapez and Areal, Karat’s line-up of artists create a type of house music that is remarkably similar. Thus, while Krikor’s mix of the label’s goods is a nearly seamless one, it’s easy to wonder how the results might’ve sounded had he the choice of unlimited labels and releases to go through for his debut mix CD. He’s hardly worth pitying, however. If Katapult Vol. 2 is any indication, he should have no trouble getting gigs on the strength of both his production and mixing skills. For those who like their house mixes a bit more raw, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one this year.

Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2005-09-29
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