- So there you are, minding your own business. You’ve had a ridiculous day at work and all you want to do is get home, kick your shoes off and just relax. But you’ve just realised that there is absolutely no food in the fridge so you have to make a trip to the supermarket during rush hour. So in order to endure this most painful of chores, you put a newly acquired CD in your discman and start weaving your way through masses of people, some who know where they’re going, others who don’t have a clue. Ultimately, you find yourself in the dairy section of said supermarket, staring at the milk. And that’s all you do. You stand there and stare. Why? Because now your mind has succumbed to the sleazy, tribal beats that are being played through your headphones. Because now you’ve completely forgotten where you are and you start moving along with the bass. Because now you have a cheeky grin on your face from the images that are appearing in your mind. Because now a security guard has come up to you, shaken your shoulder and basically told you to move it along!
Welcome to the world of Lights Out 2 mixed by Steve Lawler. It’s a seriously different trip!
If there were one man that has become the symbol for tribal progressive house, that man would have to be Steve Lawler. Already established as one of the world’s most talented DJs through his monstrous sets at the now closed Twilo in New York and the infamous Space in Ibiza, he has gained further respect with his remix work and own productions with such gems as ‘Rise In’ and ‘Andante’. He’s travelled the world many times over and left crowds breathless in his wake, so much so that his set at Home, Sydney last October is still one of the most talked about sets amongst Sydney’s progressive lovers.
Lawler’s fame was further catapulted with the inaugural and much anticipated release of the first installment in the Lights Out series last year. Lights Out 1 proved to be a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale market and for many, was considered the standout compilation for 2002. With such an auspicious beginning, the pressure to match this initial success must have weighed heavily on Steve Lawler. As a huge fan of the first release, I must admit that I was somewhat hesitant of what to expect but even with the very first listen, I knew I was listening to something special. From my perspective, Lights Out 2 surpasses all expectations and has proved to be more enjoyable than anything I could have imagined. There are those that will probably be disappointed because they expected something of the same nature. I personally had hoped that it would be a step in another direction. And what a step it is!
After the almost Gregorian sounds of the intro, The Baguio Track by Luzon, CD 1 begins with the percussive beats of Alan Barrat’s aptly titled ‘Zulu Nation Part 6’. A very basic track with an increasing drum sound that kicks into a subtle bass but with an obvious tribal feel. This continues with Bertoldo’s ‘Amor (Drum Mix)’ which maintains the same rhythm yet the bass is deeper thereby giving this particular track a fuller sound. The Lawler re-edit of Diamond Dogs featuring Mary Tanning’s ‘Nothing Else (U-Facilities & Sciatca Pump Mix)’ follows on from this with its tougher house sound. Up next is the melodic, bass infused ‘Live Love’ by Solar vs Audio Fly. Subtle electro tinges can be heard which is only the start of what will appear in the remainder of this mix. The vocals that are heard only add to the beauty of this track. The direction of the mix is then taken to a more electro path with Dino Da Cassino’s ‘Can U Clear It’. By this time, the pace is slightly increased and I’ve already found myself dancing in my seat while I was trying to write this review. “Is it acid?” Well, it’s something, especially since the track samples a snippet of an old Madonna track throughout it. We continue on an electro yet percussive beat with Danusha’s ‘Movin On (Gabrielle D’Andrea Electro Mix)’ and then Paul Johnson’s ‘Follow This Beat (Andrea Doria Mix)’ with its dark, sleazy feel and quirky little bleepy sounds. From here we move to Kade’s ‘If You Want Me (Don’t Bring Me Down) (Menace Mix)’. This has to be my favourite track on CD 1. It consists of great vocals and a stretched, dirty bass that forces you to get up and dance. I could listen to this track all day long and never get tired of hearing it. Very simple in concept but the dirty bass, the vocals and the melodic breakdown combine to create a standout track. Lawler then perfectly blends Polekat’s ‘Dancin Queen (You Know What I Mean?)’ into the mix and the lyrics that are sung are enough to create a cheeky feel to a tough electro track. This is very much what electroclash should be but isn’t! We then swing back into a tougher house sound with Presser’s ‘2 Black 2 Gay’ and I can’t help but smile at the ‘Disco Sucks’ sample heard towards the end. Then its straight into the stomping beats of Steffano Noto presents Faith Sounds’ ‘London Night’ which I have to say is like listening to the 21st Century version of a Glam Rock track, Global Underground style. I can just imagine this being played in a club and everyone jumping up and down in unison to the beat. Awesome! This level is maintained with Anoma’s ‘Let It Go (Mindprint Remix)’ which once again has bleepy little samples, even the sounds of sirens throughout but overall a track that will continue to make you dance. CD 1 closes with Corbett featuring Michelle G’s ‘Music Is Magic (Troia Mix)’, a tough progressive track with a robust melodic bass that will only leave you wanting more from Steve Lawler.
From an overall perspective, the first CD of Lights Out 2 is a quirky, upbeat experience. While conceptually still tribal in sound, Steve Lawler has found tracks that have an electro edge with a dirty, acid bass. These sounds, when combined, give this part of the mix a rather cheeky, yet sleazy feel. I can’t help but think this came much too easy to Steve Lawler.
CD 2 begins with the almost acappella infused sounds of Underworld’s ‘Two Months Off’ then takes off with Chuck ‘N’ Roll’s ‘Playin Dirty (Jondi & Spesh Mix)’. Only a snippet of this track’s rolling beats are heard and then we are introduced to the chunky, tribal drums of Indart Colours Y Legaz’s ‘Remember The Beats’. This then slowly builds with its full bass and hypnotic pace until, before you realise it, you’re listening to DJ Pierre vs David Morales’ ‘Make It Hot’. With this particular track, the tempo is increased and the tension continues to build and build but Lawler is only teasing us until it’s time for the next track which is UN7’s ‘R.R.R.’. Where he took you up and up, he brings you back slightly and then begins to tease again. With every beat in this particular track, he continues to build the tension unrelentingly and again brings you back down and then…. BANG! It explodes and you find yourself screaming like a child with a brand new toy. A scorcher of a track! Following on is Sahara’s ‘The Only One (Bini & Martini Cosmic Dub)’ which provides a tougher progressive sound. It still has the galloping beats but with a deeper bass and a quirky acid fee. Definitely another track that quietly builds, and with the breakdown only adding to the tension. It’s so subtle that you don’t really notice it, then again it explodes into another gem of a track. The mix is then taken to a more typical tribal feel with Alcatraz’s ‘Give Me Love (That Kid Chris Mix)’ and then onto the energetic beats of Prophets of Sound’s ‘Tide Of Dreams (Brancaccio & Asher Mix)’ which will force you to get up and dance. Once again another standout track in an already abundant mix. Up next is Eric Kauffman vs Jet’s ‘My Girlfriend Is A Robot’. A very austere track that has a deep bass yet funky tribal beat. The robotic style vocals are well suited given the title of this track. This is followed by Java & Gabi Newman’s ‘No Puedo Olvidarme (Can’t Forget)’ with its rich full bass that will continue to keep you in the groove. The warped Eurochrome’s ‘Future Spirit (Lawler Re-Edit)’ is introduced next and maintains the mix on a seriously twisted electro tip, especially with the vocals that can be heard. For me, another favourite track. As we near the close of CD2, Lawler starts to bring the energy slightly down with What Ever Girl Presents’ ‘Still Here’. The beats are getting calmer and it’s time to stop and start breathing again but not just yet. With Jaydee’s ‘Plastic Dreams (Future 2003 Mix)’, it’s the last hurrah. Lawler’s Nip ‘n’ Tuck Edit features everything that Lights Out 2 has represented: a driving tribal beat, electro tinged bass, quirky samples but above all a yearning for more of the same.
Of the two mixes, this is definitely the darker but at the same time Lawler has managed to keep things on an upbeat swing. Whether that’s been intentional or my interpretation is somewhat confused, I think he’s genuinely captured a sound that’s not only tribal in rhythm but melodic in style. I’m not a hardcore tribal fan and if he’d gone into much more depth with that sound, I think it would have lost my interest. As I’ve said already, I’ve enjoyed Lights Out 2 much more than the first one, simply because I feel he’s not only incorporated his signature tribal sound but he’s added a more house sound and an electro feel thereby making it his own. To me, this is the sign of a truly unique DJ whose taste is not only maturing but who’s not afraid to experiment. In an industry full of DJs who are afraid to stray from the expected, Steve Lawler is a shining example of what a versatile and forward thinking DJ and producer he is and will further become. An absolute standout compilation and one that I didn’t expect to love as much as I do.
2003 has been a tremendous year for compilation releases. Every eagerly awaited major release has delivered the goods and Lights Out 2 is no exception. While Lights Out 1 was a favourite of mine from last year’s crop of releases, its follow up is, in my eyes, a far superior addition and one that I enjoy more with every listen. While still promoting all things tribal, with this new Lights Out, Lawler has added dirty electro touches that gives this mix a wonderful sleazy feel. And make no mistake; this CD is sleazy with a capital ‘S’. This isn’t the usual rated M progressive that most of us are used to and love. This is music with an ‘R’ rating. In some respect, you should treat it as your very own dirty little secret. Going beyond that, Lights Out 2 is something that will really make you shake a tailfeather before you’ve even realised it. Don’t walk, don’t run, don’t hide. Just dance!
1. Lights Out Intro featuring Luzon – The Baguio Track
2. Alan Barrat – Zulu Nation Part 6
3. Bertoldo – Amor (Drum Mix)
4. Diamond Dogs featuring Mary Tanning – Nothing Else (U-Facilities & Sciatca Pump Mix) (Lawler Re-edit)
5. Solar vs Audio Fly – Live Love
6. Dino Da Cassino – Can U Clear I
7. Danusha – Movin On (Gabrielle D’Andrea Electro Mix)
8. Paul Johnson – Follow This Beat (Andrea Doria Mix)
9. Kade – If You Want Me (Don’t Bring Me Down) (Menace Mix)
10. Polekat – Dancin Queen (You Know What I Mean?)
11. Presser – 2 Black 2 Gay
12. Steffano Noto presents Faith Sounds – London Night
13. Anoma – Let It Go (Mindprint Remix)
14. Corbett featuring Michelle G – Music Is Magic (Troia Mix)
1. Lights Out Intro featuring Underworld – Two Months Off
2. Chuck ‘N’ Roll – Playin Dirty (Jondi & Spesh Mix)
3. Indart Colours Y Legaz – Remember The Beats
4. DJ Pierre vs David Morales – Make It Hot
5. UN7 – R.R.R.
6. Sahara – The Only One (Bini & Martini Cosmic Dub)
7. Alcatraz – Give Me Love (That Kid Chris Mix)
8. Prophets of Sound – Tide Of Dreams (Brancaccio & Asher Mix)
9. Eric Kauffman vs Jet – My Girlfriend Is A Robot
10. Java & Gabi Newman – No Puedo Olvidarme (Can’t Forget)
11. Eurochrome – Future Spirit (Lawler Re-Edit)
12. What Ever Girl Presents – Still Here
13. Jaydee – Plastic Dreams (Future 2003 Mix) (Lawler Nip ‘n’ Tuck Edit)