VA: The Lab 02—Steve Bug

Following fast on the heels of Loco Dice's inaugural outing, the second installment in NRK's Lab series finds Poker Flat, Dessous, and Audiomatique boss Steve Bug (real name Stefan Brugesch) at the helm and serving up two frothy discs of tech-house and deep house. He's an old hand at this sort of thing: having got his career rolling in the early ‘90s, Bug's Lab set is his eighth mix CD in as many years. The series was established by NRK owner Nick Harris to showcase “forward-thinking electronic dance music” and the second collection makes good on the promise.

The moment the sinuous house pulse of “Makeover” by Ostgut's Nick Höeppner shuffles into view, we're off on a fluid, seventy-one-minute cruise through sultry, seaside climes. The vibe is laid-back and Ibiza-styled, with one deep house cut succeeding another in a seamless flow. Early highlights emerge when Azulu Phantom's soulful vocalizing deepens the old-school funk quotient in Mush's remix of Kai Alce's steamy “Power Thru Pt 3,” and Rocco plays vocal ping-pong with the echo-drenched title during “Da Men (Dub).” Smooth, dub-inflected tunes from Dplay (“Huub Sand”), Claire Ripley (“Kismet”), Henry L (“The Other Day At The Basement”), and David Durango (“Perfect Day”) perpetuate the mix's breezy feel, after which Paul St. Hilaire pops up to lend his instantly identifiable voice to Sideshow's “If Alone.” Jay Tripwire's soulful vocal swinger “Save Each Other” makes a strong late-inning impression before the mix bids adieu with cuts by Nick Solé (“Simple Things”) and Kiki (“Good Voodoo”). Though micro-traces of electro and acid work their way into the material, tech-house and deep house obviously dominate the Lab's first half.

Those folks who find the first disc a little too cool and subdued will want to turn to the more fiery disc two instead. Even just the first slinky seconds of “The Soul Part 2” by Craig Smith & The Revenge intimate that the second half's ride will be more energized and peak-time in character. That opener's bubbling, bass-powered strut sends the mix on a kinetic, seventy-eight-minute journey that includes hookups with Blagger (a tripped-out DJ Koze remix of “Strange Behaviour”), Ostgut's Ben Klock (“Subzero”), Art Of Tones (a motorik Motor City Drum Ensemble makeover of “Call The Shots”), DOP (the futuramic “36500 Days”), and Cobblestone Jazz (the hard-wired electro-disco strut of “Traffic Jam”). Hilarity ensues when Bug's own “Swallowed Too Much Bass” (in a Joris Voorn Remix) gets its funk rumble on, while raving cuts by Peace Division (“Eh Oh Um”) and Trentemøller vs DJ Lab (“Rauta”) ensure that no one'll nod off during the second's half's closing minutes. If Lab 02 isn't necessarily a contender for mix release of the year, Bug's outing nevertheless gets the job done.

October 2009