Steve Lawler Nu Breed 003
photos by Dean Belcher
The "Boxed Boys" seem to have the mixed compilation cd market under wraps now. A couple of party-loving blokes that started an independent label out of Newcastle have set a standard that few can follow. With their Global Underground series, the quality of music and recording represented on this series of compilations could hardly be touched. That is until they launched their newest series, Nu Breed, to bring recognition to some of the amazingly talented, yet lesser-known, djs of the world. Anthony Pappa and Danny Howells have seen their popularity increase rapidly since the releases of their Nu Breed compilations, and now it's Steve Lawler's turn.
Steve Lawler is no rookie to the dj scene, but it is only recently that he has enjoyed the fruits of his labor. With residencies, including London's super-club, Home, and NY's Twilo, and gigs all over the world Steve is poised to be the "next big thing." That is, if he isn't already. Lawler's huge single, "Rise In," has captured and exemplified his career this year. A track hammered by all of the UK giants, it was recently picked up and remixed domestically in the US, and is selling like mad worldwide. His worldwide bookings have exploded and his Nu Breed release is just another rung near the top of his climb to stardom.
As the story unfolds, we're introduced to this dark and mysterious shaman-istic stranger. Who, I feel, is characteristic of tone felt throughout this whole piece from start to finish. The tribal mystique is painted thick and heavy, with rich toms, samples (heavy on trippy reverb), and bass-laden percussive house. The feeling never strays. The production on this piece is so fine that even the vocal-sample, looped through the first two tracks, of the stranger saying "we were in the dark," resonates your speakers with filtered bass. I've come to understand that precision and quality engineering bind all of Lawler's work.
By the time the title sample of 2 Boys, 1 Girl's sexy funker slides in at track number 4, I was already feeling quite "Twisted" by now, thank you. The tempo and the primal simplicity of the beats give this cd a seriously sexy undertone. (Not to mention a few overtly sexual samples, like Erotica's "Orgasm," for good measure.) Drumscape's "Peptide Bass" reminds us that "this is the underground," with its deep and penetrating beats, and dubby samples. Chugging right into the dreamy, washed-out disco flares and tribal chanting of "Arriba, Abajo," Lawler's track selection remains steadfast, as he jocks between deep, tribally percussion and deep progressive disco. Cevin Fisher's classic, "Love you some more," touches on some of the diversity one could expect from a Lawler live set. You can also look for Lawler's remix of this track he did on the flight to play in Atlanta.
Steve seems notorious for spicing his sets with live sampling, reworking, and utilizing some of the best and most influential progressive tracks, old and new. I loved hearing some well-timed "oldies" throughout the sets of Steve's I have been fortunate to catch. (See Homelands UK.)
Basco's "Only you" provides you with a soulful, housey male vocal that accentuates a deep, but pumping jazzy vibe. It's the type of song you that when you first hear it, you automatically think you've heard it before, even though it's the first time. The soul is carried through Menace's "Reap what you sow," fresh off Plastic Fantastic's offshoot label, Plastica. This label has pumped out some major tunes this year, and is heavily supported by Lawler, as well as the rest of the UK-giants.
As mentioned before, Erotica's "Orgasm" is a filthy little ride with the "little man in the boat." Lawler picks back up with the disco flare in homage to his "US counterpart" Danny Tenaglia's rework of Georgio Moroder's "From here to eternity." The selection of this one surprised me, because of the energy it starts to build for the conclusion of disc one (and I find it notoriously difficult to get out of before the over-abundance of Partridge-esque vocals destroy the tune). Then, Lawler changes direction a little, while still shopping the US for some good house tunes, with Green Velvet's classic "Answering Machine." One of Lawler's most interesting mixes glides in with the last cut, Dj Pippi's "Feel it." Overall, on the first disc, Lawler gives quite a nod to American house producers, while maintaining that "UK" feel. Its consistency and deepness make it my favorite out of the two disc set.
Steamy is what you get from Tantric's "Sex on the beach" opener laced over Danny T.'s "Elements." Lawler doctors up the older release by layering the sexy samples through the progression of the track, then bringing in the nasty "Fiendapella" accapella for a few measures. Lawler knows that a "fiend is never satisfied," and continues to pommel you with the chugging bass and tribal drums.
At the forefront of the tribal house movement, Peace Division has really helped define the sound of 2000; with their dark drums and housey percussion, all the progressive icons seem to be pitching this as their "new" sound. Lawler respectfully gives a nod to their successes, dropping their original "Feel my drums" and their remix of Yothu Yindi's "Treaty" back-to-back here. Though the transition is seamless into the chanting "Voices...inside my head" and the selection is great, it does puzzle me slightly why both Danny Howells and Lawler would both use such a distinct track in their respective Nu Breed series.
Baroque, one of the hottest progressive labels of 2000, provides us with the tribal stomper, "Outside looking in (down)." The Motown samples that characterize the more minimal Del 5 track "The biggest thing in Detroit" bring back the soul and funk to disc two, as Steve brings us down for a couple of tracks. The mix and use of Satoshi Tomiie's "Up in flames" on this compilation represents the best use of this track I've heard to date.
Back into a more driving tribal feel, the cd starts to really pick up momentum, as it lifts the energy for the final few tracks. Tribal Crew and Richard F both turn in noteworthy tracks on this one, working their way into Valentino Kanzyani's "Fever." My personal favorite cut on the cd is the final track by Chab, "Matica." Chab's tribal trancer explodes in the mix, and shows why Chab is also another producer to watch for 2001.
From start to finish, I rate this as one of the best new "progressive" house compilations to date. I have recommended this Nu Breed to house fans, to trance fans, and to basically everyone I know. The selections are superb, the mixes are impeccably fluid throughout, and Lawler's own personalization and samples bring the compilation to a whole new level. It is truly a whole nu breed of listening.
Nu Breed 03
Dark Drums Vol. 2
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