Record Review - 3 June 05 2002

Part of a nu_breed of global DJ head-liner, the U.K.’s Steve Lawler has quickly made his way to the top of the stack with sets described as “progressive house” not so much for their genre as their approach. With his upcoming Lights Out, Lawler takes the esteemed Global Underground mix series — on an equally progressive journey, moving past primetime builds and breaks and big floor-fillers into the primal, penetrating pulse of the bleary early-morning hours.

Lawler’s sets are dramatic, but drama-free. His emphasis is on chugging, clanking drums, not drumming up reaction with anthems. Lights Out’s first disc throbs steadily with twisted tribal percussion, the deep, groaning yawn of bass lines, and just a hint of disco. This is music that’s not afraid to get dirty, its dank, sweaty beat on erotic display, moaning throughout tracks by Ultra Fine, Paranoid Jack, Scumfrog, Swain & Snell, and Lawler mainstays Cevin Fisher and Thick Dick, among others.

It’s the second disc, however, that displays Lawler’s willingness to progress. While the first stays heavy with raw layers of beat tied to a single groove, the middle of the second slides into a lighter, techy mood — perhaps the effect of Lawler’s residencies on many of Ibiza’s patios — before moving on to ramping electro, then returning with a resounding thump to more straight-ahead — though no less bumping — “progressive” house.

A progression, indeed. With Lights Out, Lawler continues to shine in the afterglow.

Steve Lawler spins at eleven50 Fri., June 7.??