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CD Feature/ Damian Lazarus: "Sci-Fi-Lo-Fi Vol 2: Night of the Dark Machines"

img  Tobias
Recently, while on tour in South America, Damian Lazarus’ car broke down in the muder capital of the world. What to do when the sun is burning down relentlessly, guns are a being pointed at your back out of nowhere and you’re miles away from the safety of civilisation? Lazarus chose for the least likely option: He smiled and documented the episode for his homepage.

No words could ever describe the man as aptly as this poignant scene. As head of the Crosstown Rebels label, Lazarus had to watch three distributors go bankrupt on him, tearing tons of hard-earned and well-deserved money into an abyss of debts and ruin. And yet, he has remained an optimist and an enthusiast, still as euphoric about being able to live his dream as when he started out in the music business.

The “dream” in his case translates to his work as a DJ, a profession which he regards less as an opportunity of displaying technical skills and more of a means for cultural mediation – while having the party of your life, that is. It seems to be Lazarus’ conviction (and who seriously wants to contradict him?) that whatever differences there may have been between nations and their citizens, they will loose their significance in the moment of ecstatic dancing and under the benigne pulse of the groove. His work brings people together who were formerly divided or indifferent. Can there be something more political than that?

On Night of the dark machines”, Damian’s approach may be clearer than ever. A mix of 16 tracks in roughly 74 minutes, it is fluent while leaving the contrasts between pieces intact, insistent despite its relaxed flow. Simplistic eclecticism is replaced with an atmospheric logic, which places the dark urbanism of Burial next to the quirky bouncings of To Rococo Rot and juxtaposes the vintage drum hypnoticism of Portable’s “Albatros” with the ambient technoisms of Kassem Mosse’s “Untitled”. Similarly motivated, underground hits like “The Voice of Q” meet Moloko’s remix of Pulp’s “Feeling called Love” or an instrumental edit of an S.O.S. Band track. And out of nowhere, Kraftwerk’s “Computerwelt” grows like ivy round the flanks of sceletised percussion patterns.

Quite naturally, the mix develops a pull where there really couldn’t be any, creating coherency out of disparate elements. Lazarus thinks from the beat not from sound, which allows him to transcend the barrier between richly detailed textures with interleaving hihat crackles and in-your-face club anthems without secret messages or ironic twists. His DJ set lacks the typical movements from quiet to loud, from abstraction to concretion and from the casual to the engaging. Rather, it wants to be appreciated in the moment, with each track a grain of sound in a colourful prism of tunes and timbres.

“Night of the Dark Machines” is not an album suited to genre-parties or as functional aural wallpaper. The album is about wanting to head into the blue without necessarily going somewhere, about summersaulting without a safety net, about singing karaoke on Pop Idols in front of millions while being drunk. Sometimes, it seems as though Damian Lazarus were going over the top and loosing his grip. Actually, on one or two occasions his set is dangerously close to breaking apart. But you wouldn’t seriously think that could keep this man from smiling?

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Damian Lazarus
Homepage: Soma Records

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