Lazarus Rise

British DJ shakes the foundation

Foundation's decor plays up its we-are-serious-about-dance- music mission: The dark lines of the bar stretch between the imposing bare stonework and metal columns of the Lumber Exchange's basement. With low-key lighting and enough piped-in smoke to re-create pre-smoking-ban ambience, the room had the right air of dedicated hedonism even with the thinner crowd during opener Ghetto's set.

The crowd was dense by the time British DJ Damian Lazarus took over. It's always the odd ones who stick out, like the older gentleman in his shirtsleeves dancing like a tipsy uncle at a wedding, or the big bald guy in a Cosby sweater who was very serious about out-dancing any challenger. My favorites were the two dudes in brightly colored afro wigs doing the hands-in-the-air the whole night, as close to the booth as they could get. (Either they're the world's biggest Damian Lazarus fans, or that's just their thing....) And, of course, there were the club habitués with polished moves, and dozens of boozy people exercising their right to a mental Friday night.

Lazarus (a name fit for a forward-thinking DJ or a Bond villain) is lanky and serene in a Mathieu Kassovitz/Adrien Brody mold. Two of his '05 mix CDs, Rebelfuturism Session Two and Suck My Deck, laid out his aesthetic of spacey, dubby electrohouse, swinging from guttural to strangely melancholy. Tonight, his set was pitched toward straightforward minimal severity. The sounds were sharp and pointillistic: denatured marimbas and clogs layered under sparse pings, strafing cowbells, and a divebombing siren or two, with plenty of tense echoing space between them, all of it bolted to a nonstop house stomp. When a big, familiar element cut through—a Moroder-y bassline, a wash of synth organ, a snippet of voice—he got yet another ecstatic Whooo! from the crowd and more hands-in-the-air from the dudes in the afro wigs. Mission accomplished.

 
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