That isn't entirely accurate of course. The seven hour plus sets that Lawler made his name with as a Space Ibiza resident in the late '90s were somewhat more supple than his reputation may have you believe. As a touring DJ, meanwhile, Lawler has been forced to keep his sets to more manageable lengths. He hasn't gone out of his way to avoid those preconceptions, though. Mix compilations like Dark Drums and Lights Out plunged the listener into long tunnels of tenebrous tubthumping, while his ViVA Music label consistently churns out percussive house tracks seemingly designed solely for Lawler to pad out his sets.
Lights Out – Decade, released to mark the tenth anniversary of the series, isn't going to change anyone's opinion. 2007's Viva London mix for Renaissance might have nodded towards minimal, but here we're back to business as usual with two CDs of drum-heavy house peppered with disembodied voices, random whooshes and rippling reverb. Much of the tracklisting is culled from ViVA Music, and following the relatively light intro of Livio & Roby's "Moduri," the thumps begin to get heavier with Portfolio's "Hatton Gardens."
It's heads down from there, with the very occasional glance upwards. (David Lara's "Beats and Scratches," in particular, adds a bit more sashaying swing.) The first disc isn't bad at all, with the relentless beats and occasional bounce showcasing Lawler's undeniable dancefloor nous. But surely only the most fanatical Lawler acolyte could make it through that and the second disc in one go, especially when the latter disc contains such long stretches of utter monotony as Richie Santana's "Lower East Side," Kaiserdisco's "Amalfino" and Lauhaus' "Poison." Anyone else is most likely to sympathise with the sampled voice speaking about "fighting our way back to the light" on David Lara's "Three Minutes." They might as well be talking about being suffocated by the obdurate thuds of the music around them as being buried underground.