VA: Katapult Various Artists Vol. 3

French label Karat's third compilation spreads all-exclusive tracks across 78 minutes. One could collectively characterize the material as artful minimal house enlivened by bold edits, rich sample textures, and slippery grooves but, while not an inaccurate description, doing so underacknowledges the unique qualities of the individual pieces. The collection starts on an amazing high with The Mole's transfixing house cut “Conscience Down By the Tracks Near the 80,” an artfully roiling whirligig elevated by a deliciously slippery groove and sexy voice hooks. The slaphappy funk-house groove of Dolibox's “Winter is Late” impresses too, as do forcefully swinging cuts by Automat (the rubbery electro-house of “Prelude 4”) and Ark (the jazzy “Chantier”). Skat's tight house track “Nightwalk” takes the listener on a fast clip through a city's crow-infested backstreets while Mikael Weill's “Emie” marries a subtle melancholy feel with staccato electro patterns. “99 Erikas” by Dandy Jack ally Sonja Moonear is so delectably understated in its minimal funkiness it belongs more on a Minus comp than one from Karat. Obviously, then, there's much to love but the album's also a mixed bag as numerous splendid cuts are offset by some less-than-spectacular moments near album's end. Vita's (Mikael Stavostrand) over-long “Carefully Hiding” isn't helped by an undistinguished vocal by Erika. Far worse, Electroménager renders “Wet” unbearable with a vocal that's as juvenile as it is obnoxious. Too bad: had the entire collection been on par with The Mole's opener, we'd already be reserving a spot for it on 2007's '10 Best Compilations' list.

January 2007