Steve Lawler: Viva London

Sven Väth: In the Mix III: The Sound of the Eighth Season

Mixed on two decks by Sven Väth at the Cocoon Club, Frankfurt, The Sound of the Eighth Season entices with its bubbly mix of names both new (Alejandro Vivanco, Tolga Fidan, Mark August) and established (Carl Craig, Alter Ego, Jamie Jones). Split into two halves (Freak and Show), the set's a relentless techno storm that takes about two seconds to kick into gear when the hammering groove of Radical Majik's “Dub Rider” fires up. And though that opener is an eleven-minute peak, it's hardly the collection's only one. The glorious trance-techno of Joris Voorn's “The Deep,” for instance, definitely lives up to its title. The Amazing tests our French fluency in the wacky shuffler “Qu'est-ce que vous voulez?” while Jonas Kopp's dive-bombing “Psiquic” remix of Plan Tec's “Espias Psiquicos” would make Audion jealous. Snappy swing (Claude VonStroke's remix of Worthy's “IRST_TE?”), acid-funk (Steve Rachmad's “Moog On Acid,” for example), and banging grooves all help boost disc one's hypnotic vibe.

The second half's got its share of freaky moments too, including Tolga Fidan's “Tanbulistan,” which squirts mangled voices over a shuddering mélange of pumping Latin-tinged beats and squirrelly synths, Isolée's squiggly overhaul of Paulo Olarte's “Solo Tu,” and Chaton's spaced-out “Catch The Beat.” Things cool down in the first half of Carl Craig's smooth makeover of Junior Boys' “Like A Child” before the beats kick in and the tune gallops forth. The slightly less frenetic second half is as satisfying as the first though, regrettably, ends on a down note with Pepe Bradock's painfully grotesque “Rhapsody In Pain.” Ignore that misstep, however, and The Sound of the Eighth Season adds up to almost two-and-a-half hours of steaming club sounds.

If Viva London can be regarded as a reliable signpost, one of the better places to be obviously must be London 's The End where Steve Lawler's been presenting his Viva (formerly Harlem ) parties the past six years. In the spirit of past Renaissance releases, the mix is a massive two-disc affair whose 140-minute running time is less than half the running time of the typical set he spins in the UK capital.

Maintaining a clockwork propulsion throughout, Lawler's mix starts with Matias Muten's low-riding mix of Z@p's “Plumonito” and then gets funkier and spacier with David K's “Three Arches.” Kadebostan's “Spirit Soldiers” and Luke Hess's “Omnipotent” add African swing and rubbery electro touches respectively but otherwise the mix generally sticks to a determinedly straight house path. The mix moves into a deep state of surging, barely controlled euphoria by the time the sixth song rolls into view (Reshuffle's “Paparazzi”) and then gets downright tribal in the cuts that follow. Funk infuses disc two cuts like Onur Özer's “Allegro Energico” (distinguished even more by its insistent “classical” themes) and the thunderously roiling “Instinto Primario” by Ole & Polygon, while techno and schaffel surface in Der Dritte Raum's “Plutonium” and Remo Pres. Sidechainers' “Steel 24.” For the record, Lawler slips in two steaming originals along the way (“Violet” and “Courses For Horses”). Though Viva London is first and foremost about groove, its hard to resist its seductive pull.

January 2008