Damian Lazarus debut artist album Smoke The Monster Out is his indisputable opus. Already world renowned as a DJ, producer and the head of influential underground label Crosstown Rebels, Lazarus redefined himself in May 2009 with Smoke The Monster Out; a brave, textured, enchanting and intensely personal passion project that reflected his own wide-ranging tastes as a music lover, and showcased his talents as producer, lyricist, vocalist and arranger.
Having caused a seismic ripple amongst fans and critics alike with Smoke The Monster Out, the album became the basis of an extensive worldwide club tour for Damian in 2009. From his new Los Angeles base, he set to work early in the year with one of his favourite American artists abstract techno producer Kenneth J Gibson of [a]pendics.shuffle to rework the album to form the basis of the live show. Through many studio sessions, Smoke the Monster Out was re-imagined for the club experience, combining the delicacy and quirkiness of the albums best and boldest moments, with the deep, dark and twisted dancefloor groove that Lazarus is famous for. With an increasing number of requests for these club versions, Damian is now finally able to sate appetites by releasing this highly anticipated selection, Smoke The Monster Out Club Versions.
Neverending, a delightful treasure of neo-tropical, vocodered electro pop, that cheekily sampled the hugely popular James Holden remix of Andre Kraml's "Safari", here blooms into a quirky pastiche of cut-n-paste sounds, as a heavy stepping bassline forms the soundbed for the tracks robo-vocals and tiny, layered snippets of electronic sounds.
While the album version of Lullabies flirted with a raw and dirty sound, via its slow-mo fusion of abstract sounds and a chiming lullaby melody, the club mix here shakes off the murk and ramps up the unpredictability, taking ingenious left hand turns into deep and organic discofied funk, and again to melodic tech-electronica, all the while drenched in a woozy, wonky harpsichord melody.
The gothic dance-pop of Come And Play was unique for its distinctive Nick Cave sample and the haunting vocal interplay of Taxi Taxi twins Johanna and Miriam Berhan. Packed with tension and atmosphere, this rework retains the tracks brooding atmosphere, dubbing out the vocals over dueling upfront & low down synth melodies, all the while engineering an increasing sense of dancefloor urgency perfect for peaktime builds.
Bursting out of the gate, album favourite Bloop Bleep is transformed from a slice of playful retro pop into a heavy dose of quirky minimalistic funk. A plotted bass loop is punctuated by filtered horn stabs and the reverbed vocal sample of children's favourite storyteller Danny Kaye, before it all takes a sideways swerve towards twisted musical mayhem, full of clicks, claps and the requisite bloops and bleeps.
Damians club version of Diamond In The Dark takes it on a deep and spooky trip to a zany after hour party, where the track is exposed to all manners of debauchery. He forms it into a twisted House groove that spits out the sounds of the original awash in reverb and effects to send your imagination into overdrive.
The falling-down-the-rabbit-hole feel of Moment combined a stomping beat with pitch-shifting vocals. The new club interpretation has a thrumming, elasticized bassline thats in league with syncopated percussive synths that lend the new arrangement a new sheen of dancefloor swing, while the vocals either drift in and out of focus in a dream state, or bounce back and forth in stereo clarity.
Its Raining Today, a lush, orchestrated ballad in its original form, is turned on a 180° axis in the hands of Lazarus & Gibson; pitched down vocal snippets are suspended over an endless loop of string samples, chattering handclaps and a minimal techno framework. Its an irresistible journey into a late-night world of dark and sweaty dancing, with delicious tension between the delicate vocals and their new unwholesome setting. A breakdown reintroduces the emotive original, before the denouement intertwines the old and the new for the ultimate club synergy.
Lazarus & [a]pendics.shuffle bring to Memory Box all their deep experience of what makes dancefloors tick. The vocals ride a minimal but rolling, bassy house rhythm thats draped in hypnotic synths and the odd clipped klaxon blast, blaring like the ghost of nights gone by.
Smoke The Monster Out was a defining moment in the ever moving and illustrious career of Damian Lazarus. Only Damian could create an album as exhilarating and audacious as Smoke The Monster Out, and only his inventiveness and ingenuity could revitalise, reform and recontextualise his masterpiece in such an accomplished way.