Karlovak represents the Stockholm based operation, somewhat run by Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie and launched in 2011.
Established in 2011, it's unclear why it's taken Karlovak Records until beginning of 2013 to put out their debut release. Run out of Stockholm by production partners Art Alfie and Mr Tophat, the label creates an avenue for the duo to persue their passion for raw house, away from the steelier, more measured aesthetic of their collectively-managed Junk Yard Connections imprint.
Loud, coarse kicks and upright hi-hats fuse on "SDIK Baby," with as enticing a bassline as you'll hear all year. Potent snapshots of whirling synth and heartfelt female soul vocals all contribute to the track's wonderfully organic, pumping ride. Devastatingly simple, never once does the record's eight-minute casing feel drawn out or overplayed. On the flip, "Marlboro Light" treads a techier domain, as severe stabs lead the dance with metallic, orchestral vigour.
After a stellar debut release, Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie return with their second EP in as many months on their own Stockholm-based imprint, Karlovak Records. Given KVK100's thumping delivery, the muffled first few minutes of "Crab at the Green Hunter" seem slightly out of place. Eventually the track's rolling, disco-tinged groove is given permission to unfurl, melding jovial mutterings with wholesome kicks. The track is a useful, energetic tool for DJs looking to inject a bit of spark. A playful twist on the "radio edit" suffix, "No Holdings" sounds like it was taped straight from your granddad's wireless. An unidentified disco loop gets put through the Karlovak machine, its brisk, celebratory spirit attached to a muscular, pumping structure. Fun, if somewhat lacking in originality.
Mr Tophat and Art Alfie's Karlovak label has so far only released their own productions. But after six EPs it seems the duo, who also run Junk Yard Connections, have deemed the time right to invite more people to the party. On KVK100 Remixes, the label's first release gets the remix treatment from a Swedish compatriot and city-hopping Berghain resident, with mixed results.
GW is Skudge's Gustaf Wallnerstrom, and his remix of "Marlboro Light" is a pleasant if unremarkable bit of loop-heavy house. A warbling synth riff, lilting bassline and vocal entwine for a track that's heavy with groove but light on surprises. Ryan Elliott, however, fashions "SDIK Baby" into a bona fide bomb. The original was a funky Chicago cut, but the Detroit-born Berlin resident's stripped back take draws on both his cities, with a gossamer breakbeat circling a bass riff that bursts from the depths like a sea monster. It's a masterclass in restraint, tension built to breaking and then grinningly resolved. With more Karlovak remix EPs in the pipeline, we can only hope their decision to open the label up is as well rewarded.
Sublabel: Karlovak Chrome.