Damian Lazarus & the Ancient Moons Heart of Sky

Damian Lazarus & the Ancient Moons Heart of Sky
8
Although he's released only two proper artist albums, as an A&R force and tireless DJ (he's mixed for Soma, Fabric, as well as his own Crosstown Rebels label), Damian Lazarus has helped steer the course of UK house and techno for well over a decade. Returning now with the Ancient Moons, he delivers a suitably mature third album of soulful, well-crafted house music. It may be a bit too smooth for some, but Lazarus classes up the joint well.
 
Things start out promisingly with the ultra-cool "All I Need to Get High," the melody of which may or may not be riffing on Marvin Gaye's "You're All I Need to Get By." In any event, it's a winning opener that sets the tone for things to come. And what comes is an enjoyable set of (mostly) vocal house and techno, inflected throughout with Lazarus's rich background of funk, soul, and world music.
 
Psychedelic swaths cut through the album as well, lending things a distinctly cosmic feel. It's a heady mix, but Lazarus (along with fellow Moons Jesse Appiah, Ben Chetwood and Rob Gentry) keeps things focused; this is a tightly curated project for sure.
 
London-based vocalist Appiah acquits himself especially well; his emotive, full-throated style blends perfectly with Lazarus' wide-screen vision — although things have a tendency to slide into adult contemporary/vocal jazz territory every now and then.
 
Indeed, this is an exceedingly suave and refined album, so those who prefer their house with more of an edge should perhaps look elsewhere. Those with an open mind however, will find much to enjoy on Heart of Sky. It's a classy, confident album that isn't afraid to follow its wide-ranging aesthetic to the end. (Crosstown Rebels)