Ralph Lawson's 20/20 Vision, founded in days of yore (i.e., 1994) is sort of the Maytag washing machine of house music—not because the label will clean your dirty socks, but, as Maytag's motto would have it, its products are "built for dependability." Lawson's imprint may not be the flashiest or trendiest around, but whether a 20/20 cut is deep and emotive, or chunky and chugging, or techy and driving, you can be pretty sure it's going to do the job, dancefloor-wise. In the case of the latest from Norman Weber and Marco Resmann—together known as Luna City Express, here making their 20/20 debut—you can be positive of that, as the EP's another in a long line of sturdy, timeless and club-worthy releases from the venerable label.
First up on the four-tracker is the title tune, which announces itself with a strutting rhythm and a hefty, funk-fueled bass. Syncopated synth stabs and vocal snippets enter the fray, and then something interesting happens: A jazzy Rhodes piano unexpectedly shows up to weave its way around the rhythm, lending the cut a dimension that you wouldn't expect in what's essentially a party tune. "Grand Prix" amps up the energy level, with a cooing voice ingraining it with the feel of a classic mid-'90s DiY tune, albeit a bit more jacked up than most of that much-missed label's output. "Joe's Banana," as you might guess by the name, is sort of the class clown of the bunch, a pure groover defined by a slightly goofy walking bassline, bare-bones (but undeniably effective) rhythm, nicely arranged vocal samples…and not much else, though that's really all the track needs. Finally, there's "Morning Song"—with its percolating synths, syncopated hi-hat and deeper vibe (not to mention yet more of those vocal bits), it's perhaps a bit more mellow than the others, but yet another great bassline keeps the action coming. All in all, Smokin' Bull serves as another fine release from one of the house world's most reliable labels.