High-octane house is as good as it gets
Are two house producers better than one? Lazerbeak and ICETEP set out to answer that question with their new collaboration Night Stone. “Night Stone was born out of our mutual love of all things French House, Electro, and R&B,” Lazerbeak wrote on the site of his label, Doomtree Records. Having worked together to craft Sims’ solo album More Than Ever, the two Doomtree acolytes have linked up again to explore their joint sound even further on their eponymous debut album Night Stone.
In attempting to mimic musical legends like Daft Punk, Kraftwerk and TLC, Night Stone have stumbled upon their own distinct sound. Energetic and upbeat, Night Stone seldom has a boring moment. Lazerbeak and ICETEP demonstrate sheer mastery with their mixing on the project, breaking tracks down, building them up and navigating between passages with the ease of a hot knife slicing through butter. Night Stone brings the best of each artist; in addition to the epic, atmospheric sounds for which Lazerbeak is known, there’s also a few bangers and hip-hop beats that seem to be ICETEP’s doing. Either way, people are going to want to dance.
Things start off slow with the introductory track “Rocks,” a dramatic opener with vicious synth and guitar hits that command the attention. But as soon as the listener is reeled in, the track gradually accelerates into “IRL,” a sultry house banger that really gets the party started. The verses of the track have a somewhat subdued feel, shrouded in muddled, pulsating synths to the point where it feels like something is hiding in the shadows, while the hooks really let it rip with a driving bass synth and frenetic percussion.
Lead single “Conquer Time” is a bit more stripped back, but it’s just as upbeat. ICETEP’s hip-hop leanings really shine through here, with a barebones percussion beat comprising most of the mix and featured artist and Lizzo hype woman Sophie Eris delivering android-esque spoken vocals. It’s infectiously catchy and engaging, with endless buildups and breakdowns to keep listeners guessing. The track “Be Loved” has a much more aggressive house feel, driven by a bouncy bass synth and punchy techno verses. The vocals from featured artist MMYYKK alternate between low growling on the verses and sweet crooning on the hooks, with plenty of tension and release in the instrumentation to mirror those shifts.
Perhaps the least memorable song on Night Stone is “Dreams Too.” Lazerbeak and ICETEP include strings in the mix for the first time, which help to add color, but the drive and groove of the track are strikingly reminiscent of the previous tune. Luckily for Night Stone, it’s followed by one of the high points of the record, “Monica.” Eris again contributes her hip-hop vocals to the track, rapping over full-bodied percussion and smooth guitar and synth accompaniments. The result is a euphoric bop, complete with a singalong hook (“That’s my Monica!”).
The next track “Night Rider” is another peak. Warm, rippling synthesizers wash over an energetic array of percussive elements and fit perfectly in the Goldilocks Zone; not too subtle, not too overbearing. If “Night Rider” is meant to mellow listeners out, then “Echo Love” is like a jolt of electricity that snaps things back into focus. Its mood is dark and heavy, with a rich bass and rattling percussion that listeners can feel in their bones.
In a surprising turn, the instrumental track “DAAWN” ups the intensity even higher. Jangly percussion, oooing vocals, a blown-out bass and an absolutely bombastic synth sound come together in an epic stew of bone-rattling house goodness. But Night Stone aren’t done yet, as the electric house banger “Chance” fades into fruition. The track has a euphoric groove, with more rapped vocals from Eris sitting over a mix of funk-laden guitar hits, huge kicks and epic synthesizers akin to those in Kanye West’s “Stronger.” Lazerbeak and ICETEP put on a mixing clinic, expertly guiding the track through breakdowns, buildups, transitions and moods.
Finally, closer “Forest Club” ties things up nicely. The percussion is brimming with energy, punchy and full-bodied, and it’s accompanied by vocal snippets and the bright chords of gliding synths that add just the right amount of color. The rousing track concludes the record with one last jolt of euphoria before Night Stone sign off.
If Night Stone is any indication, then yes, two house producers are, in fact, better than one. Lazerbeak and ICETEP merge their production styles flawlessly, churning out a brand of house/hip-hop that’s individual in its energy and epicness. There are some absolute jams on this record that offer all the dancey goodness of pop and electronica without the accompanying staleness and redundancy. People should do themselves a favor and listen to this triple-shot espresso of a house album.