Lawrence is one of those producers who seems to summon communal memories. Wistful and nostalgic, his trademarked minor-key house evokes solitary dusks or moonlight rooftopping. Like the blues, his music embodies the comfort of commonality between beautiful beatdown things tryin' to right themselves again. With releases on labels like Ladomat 2000, Ghostly and Kompakt over a nearly decade long recording career as Lawrence and as co-head of both Smallville and Dial, Peter Kersten's by now one of dance music's elder statesmen. But, not counting last year's somewhat disappointing The Essence under his Sten alias, it's been four years since a new studio album from the man. Thankfully now, after 2006's odds n sods compilation on Mule Electronic, comes his first real full-length for the Japanese label.
For a man who has always seemed extremely comfortable within his own well-honed aesthetic (perhaps to his detriment of late), referring to Until Then, Goodbyeas his most "mature" work to date feels, admittedly, like a pretty facile storyline. Whichever tale you choose, though, it's clear that this is a record that shows Lawrence making only half-turn stylistic twists that pay big dividends. Don't get me wrong: This is Lawrence, capital-L; still, he's rarely sounded so consistently graceful, whether beat-driven or wafting in fuzzy ambience. Containing several interludes and a more acoustic template, Until Then has the feeling of an assembly designed to coalesce, and much of the material almost seems to unspool live in the studio. Some of its haziest, silkiest ambient-house moments—the far-coast flashing lights of "Jill," or the celebratory samples and meditative piano of interlude "A New Day"—in fact slightly resemble the Mule family's other talking-point album artist from earlier this year, DJ Sprinkles.
But though the chances Lawrence takes are small—and perhaps hardly discernible before a little time is spent—they're significant. With their xylophones, bells and one-take sound, both "Father Umbrillo" and the excellent title track twinkle like an entire studio-full of tinkling, trembling glass, faintly recalling the digestible chunks of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. More spectral, "Todenhausen Blues" stumbles through spangled xylophone plinks and punchy acoustic drum hits before shadow-black synths begin to creep in at the edges.
Longtime followers fret not however. His beloved "Friday's Child" introduces the record—albeit in truncated form—and both the chubby, piano-flecked "The Dream" and the paranoid tonal swirl and dubby roll of "Don't Follow Me" will feel like cozying up with any of his early Dial records. But considering that earlier this year, several of us here at RA were wondering whether Lawrence hadn't begun to settle for carbon copies of his past, Until Then, Goodbye is a pretty welcome return for the producer. No sea-change certainly; rather a slow drift a quarter mile down the coast.
Buy Lawrence - Until Then, Goodbye at
Tracklist: Lawrence - Until Then, Goodbye 01. Friday's Child
03. Grey Light
05. Father Umbrillo
06. Todenhausen Blues
07. The Dream
08. In Your Eyes
10. Don't Follow Me
11. Sleep And Suffer
12. A New Day
13. Until Then, Goodbye
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