"All or Nothing"

KinkyBeat/Pharmacy Electronic Music

Somewhere during the course of a full CD of contemporary electronic dance music, listeners who aren't in the ideal setting for such sounds -- a throbbing warehouse party, say -- may wish for a change of pace. L.A. "trance master" Christopher Lawrence quickly dispatches that idea on "All or Nothing," his first album of all-original material. The second track, "FreeFall," varies the formula with a female vocalist cooing such cosmic inanities as "Like the sun, I will rise." It's a striking reminder that some music is better off keeping its mouth shut.

The beats and loops that drive such overtly yet appropriately titled tracks as "Hot Rod" and "Rush Hour" are dynamic and forceful, and these interlocking patterns provide both the structure and the substance of Lawrence's music. On "Mind Eraser," the synth-bass line is the pulse and the hook; "Saboteur" updates late-'70s Giorgio Moroder with harder edges and a semi-submerged chant; and the thumping "Renegade" is an essay in simulated echoes. This is medium-is-the-message music, generated by machine for people who would like, at least temporarily, to locomote robotically themselves. That may sound overly austere, but "All or Nothing" demonstrates that Lawrence's hypnotic synthetics are not improved by a human touch.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Friday at Club Five. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Christopher Lawrence, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8126. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)