- Thirty-eight year old Parisian Guillaume Berroyer first came to prominence in the mid-'90s as half of the landmark French house duo, Trankilou, alongside Julien Auger, a producer who has since established his own idiosyncratic brand of house music as Pepe Bradock. After the two split and following a series of releases on the Brif, Berroyer, AKA Ark, delved into his distinctive edit-oriented house with the Alleluyark EPs, records responsible for kickstarting one of Paris' finest purveyors of oddball house and techno, Circus Company.
But it was in 2005 with his debut full-length on Perlon, Caliente, where Ark's painstakingly detailed and intricate minimal house really peaked. Featuring guest contributions from Jamie Lidell among others, Caliente was one of the year's most eccentric dance excursions, folding in the clipped chaotic grind of "A.P. Day," the swampy piano-house of "Monapster" and the stinky strutting funk of "Sucubz." Now, for his second Perlon LP, Ark's after a different balance, interlacing his oddball production antics with more mature, stately compositions that tilt Arkpocalypse Now toward a more cohesive and sometimes sedate home-listening experience.
Still, those who adore your Ark with a little what-the-fuck, don't fret: Berroyer's is still a wry grin. "Biscuit," with vocals by Xanax, is a flirty, twisted Prince jam, while "Old Chariot" tweaks refrains of the classic spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" into the kind of bizarre gospel-funk Ark mastered with Caliente's "Preacher." Cheeky standout "Obamark"—with splices from Obama's victory speech in Chicago—stitches jumpy samples into a vibrant house cut that's one of the leanest dance floor storms he's crafted to date as well as being one of the most heartstrong.
But it's in Arkpocalypse Now's more serene productions where one really senses Ark's creative maturation in the years since Caliente. The three tracks with guest vocalist Lippie—"Puince," "Sugar of Brain" and closer "Mini Puince"—exhibit subtle organic timbres and tempos, more indebted to classic Parisian pop than to the city's famed after-midnights. The latter two are particularly spacious, with Ark allowing Lippie plenty of room to maneuver around his tropical, flute-laced productions.
Elsewhere, "Deep at All" sounds like a classic Dial production given just a little more bottom; what begins with pink-dawn synth burbles soon accelerates into deep space house, pianos a faint tinkle against a gorgeous moaning vocal sample. It's a noticeably clean and straight-forward sort of beauty—one not necessarily restrained so as much as streamlined—for a man long associated with complex layering and sound design. Consider it a testament to Ark's growth on Arkpocalypse Now. At 38, he's comfortable crafting music now for his downy home hours, even as he keeps one ear on the loud delirium of his youth.
02. House Of The Dead
05. Le Rois Sur Terre
06. Sugar of Brain
07. I Can Come
08. New York