Friday, 23 August 2013

Sat 10th August 2013: Black Atlantic x Marcel Dettman @ Village Underground

Before we begin... you can follow adventurer escapades on Twitter by clicking here, Soundcloud by clicking here and now, we have a Google calendar listing all the techno nights we know of worth going to in the UK and further afield. It's top right to this blog and will be updated as and when we know about what's coming up. And if you ever want to know more about any of the DJs and record labels mentioned in this blog, the ones highlighted are links through to more info.

Last minute change of weekend plans meant I was free to go to Black Atlantic, which I was pretty chuffed about as I have missed Lucy play in London twice this year already.

We arrived to Pariah's set and hung out in the bar until the full crew had arrived and caught up on all recent gossip and future techno plans. Upon entry to the main room, the sound was ridiculous - as in OUCH HELP GET ME EARPLUGS. All of us - that is all 6 of us - went to the bar for earplugs. To need them right near speakers is fine but to need them just to walk into the room was a bit rubbish. We planted ourselves 10ft from the front whilst TIR scampered off to find the sweet spot. Aside from the ear tickling volume Pariah delivered a solid warm up set of minimal techno. Non-techno lovers may have found it dull and for sure this set eeked out a few £5 early bird Shoreditch kids out for piss up and not for the tunes. The event was sold out but in no way over sold - the crowd was a nice bunch and there was plenty of room to dance, except nearer the front where the temperature was crazy hot.
The Sweet Spot - where the sound is best!
Village Underground is a venue rather than a club, so it doesn't have a DJ booth. The set up was brought in and unceremoniously plonked at one end of the room at ground level. Now I don't know about you but I quite like to feel connected to the DJ somehow and that usually means being able to see them. From 10ft back we couldn't see them at all. It really would not have cost much to get some wood blocks or steel deck under the set up to raise the DJs up high enough for us all to see them. Yes we could have moved to the front but TIR had found the sweet spot and it was a third of the way back with no sight of the DJs. That however, is my only complaint of the night. That and the overly invasive security. Just doing their jobs they may be but when you feel hounded whilst dancing it's not so nice. Lots of unfounded searching and ejecting going on. I saw one girl marched out and none of her friends allowed to follow. I know licenses are being revoked at the drop of a hat in this city at present but there has to be some kind of middle ground.

I rather unexpectedly bumped into an ex colleague - LJ - a lady very into her music whom I had not a single clue liked techno! It's funny how subjects like this never come up at the office. I do talk about my love of techno at work now and am glad I do. Sometimes I get some lush tunes on the Sonos system and am asked what they are and people are always surprised to learn it's techno. And that techno is not hurting their ears, nor is it soulless or indeed crap. I also occasionally find someone else in the building who loves it like me (Hi Mike). However, LJ was an unexpected surprise :) Hopefully we will see her out again soon.

The lighting at Black Atlantic was great - unfussy with just a couple of LED panels at the front and a row of spotlights which sent out various beams and effects that flowed totally in time with the music and mood.

Lucy started his set and brought the real sounds if Berlin. Lots of rolling pulsing bass, bleeps and squeaks and chugging hi hats littered with odd effects and overlays; Really good hypnotic minimal that would wake up every now and then as the effects dropped out and just rolling bass was left in their wake, building up again until it pounded the crap out of you then gently lulled you back into a stompy trance. Galloping horses thrusting out the bass bins and high hats like cans or pop bottles opening fizzing out the top end.

I took a verrrrrrrrrrrry quick trip to the ladies to expel my only beer of the night (yes people, this girl had to be up early for Sunday lunch out in the country so a hang over was to be avoided at all costs - I stayed delightfully sober for a change!). The toilets at this venue have been tarted up very slightly - they are now at least lit properly - woooohooo. I exited to a queue of other not so classy ladies with tell tale frosting of their delicately flaring nostrils. Ladies and gents... Take your drugs if that is what floats your boat, but do not walk about with white rings on your nostrils. Not cool. Have a word.

I returned to the dance floor to a short phase of sounds highly reminiscent of Green Velvet's Flash, some thumping bass and a sudden recognition that the sound had been turned down and sorted out so no more hurty ears. Having not been able to see the DJs I can't tell you if Pariah and Lucy used the same equipment or not so I have no idea if the sound was down to that or just someone prodding the sound guy to turn it down a smidge. Maybe the bar ran out of ear plugs ;)

The heavy stomp gave way to a flourish of glockenspiels and floatiness. The music came to an elegant stop. For a teeny breath of silence I thought Lucy's set had finished but before I could turn around, the speakers roared back to life with a huge bang delved into that kind of disjointed, "chasing horses" thing  - where everything almost sounds totally out of sync and time but is, actually, still totally in time. This always make me get ants in my pants. Then came the hellish droning bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep that went on foreverandeverandeverandever. I am not a fan of one sound going on for ages like a low pitched buzzer alarm that never stops. Makes me feel uneasy, even though every other sound around it changes and flows and sweep along melodically and occasionally the buzzer skips a beat. It's done to evoke a mood or feeling and it does the job but drives me mad until it gets to it's fucking point - like being in a dream where you can hear the alarm and can't work out your are asleep and need to turn it off. But, if you can handle it for long enough, when the break does happen - it's just sublime. It's like someone has been shaking your head hard for as long as you can take it and then hands you a pillow for a blissful lie down.

Lucy's set lost my attention for 20mins towards the end as it got more experimental and although sounded amazing, I lost the urge to dance so much. However, for the final 15mins I was enthralled again. I heard the drum sounds that always remind me of the old Guinness advert with the surfers and horses (Leftfield - Phat7 Planet), I heard toy soldiers drumming and a constant rhythmic phrase repeating in various sliding ranges. Every sound in techno evokes a memory in me and I have a vivid imagination. You need to be intelligent and creative to enjoy this genre. Otherwise its just noise. Your brain has to take all that imagery and binary code it. The randomness that is conjured up - everything from childhood playtimes to helicopters to alarm clocks, to shopping trolleys to computer games to dentist drills to waves on the beach and pebbles skimming on ponds. Every single sound is a sample from somewhere in my past and I think that is why I love this genre so much. It's a pretty varied soundscape. There are not many genres where you get to hear the finest emotive top end violin of a symphony orchestra mixed with muted elec guitars and tribal bongos and whirring fans and helicopter blades woodpeckers in trees and have it all sound cohesive and beautiful.

TIR and I continue to be impressed by the lighting. It was totally in tune with the music and very simple. No lasers here. There was a light haze in the air, just enough to make the lighting effects really work their magic but, there were no smoke machines. The gobos used created amazing simple effects as tubes of warm light trumpeted out followed by what looked like each lamp blowing smoke rings, then sun rays, then just warm burning embers. At one point for 5 seconds only we got a full rainbow of pastel beams - really pale and subtle but 100% needed unicorns to top it off.

Lucy's set ended to rapturous applause and Dettmann took to the decks. The time was now about 4am and I was supposed to be going home by now to get up at a sensible time for a lunch in the midlands. But how the hell do you leave Marcel Dettmann starts playing? Well you don't.

Dettmann was instantly a lot more uplifting than Lucy. Old school acid house vibes and synthy sounds wrapped up in some stonking techno. Driving beats. Now we're trucking. I was on cloud nine. Lucy had been slamming and a wonderful journey through sound and now Dettmann was just plain old hands in the air heartfelt joy. Didgeridoos and wooden hollow drum beats. Just at the point you think it's all going to get a bit too lovey, he's back in with an in your face dance floor pounding. Somehow though, even at it's least fluffy, Dettmann's set still has warmth and soul.

One of the people out partying with us was the lovely EVD. I have only ever shared a dancefloor with her a handful of times but we definitely have a techno bond. Never afraid to point out the problems with a night or the people around us we are kin in the need for perfect atmospheric conditions. She wanted harder faster louder more all the time, and gradually had us moving towards the back of the room for more space. As the room emptied a little later in the night the back was awash with decent dance space. I am not sure if the speakers hung half way down the room are a new permanent fixture or if the promoters brought them in but BRAVO!!! It was the first time I've been to Village Underground and the sound at the back has been as good as the sound at the front. So whilst we were at the back for space, we would usually be parted from Hilda who was born down the front and will most probably die down the front, in her sandals with her arms in the air. But low and behold - and it's now noted in history on the intwebs for all to see... HILDA JOINED US AT THE BACK. It may never happen ever again. And I swear I even heard her utter the words "ooo it's quite good back here isn't it, I've been missing out." She may well deny all knowledge of this. But we know. Unfortunately I have no video evidence. Was too busy enjoying the tunes.

I am a sucker for lyrics in techno. I used to sing a lot when I was younger. I hear melodies before I hear beats. I listen to lyrics before I listen to the voice singing them. I fell in love with one track and had no idea what the hell it was so typed the lyrics into my phone and have just googled that bad boy. VOILA:

And with that I had to leave and jump on a bus home. I got 6hrs sleep, woke up with no hangover and had a wonderful lunch on Sunday with my bestie in her new home in the middle of bloody nowhere. The Sunday lunch was almost worth missing the end of Dettmann's set for. Hilda told me the next day he went off on a bit of a tangent for the last hour and she wasn't feeling it so much. But she also said TIR would disagree. And I think so would I. I bet it was awesome.

Next big night out is the much anticipated Hydra Vs Blueprint tonight. I shall bring you news of this sometime next week. I am carb loaded, fully stretched and ready for a 12hrs techno marathon of epic proportions. Followed by a sleepy recovery and lazy bank holiday. Have a fabulous weekend whether you are at Hydra, Dekmantel, Carnival or elsewhere this weekend.

Maybe see you all at Plex, Colony and VOID next weekend...

The next Black Atlantic night is Wednesday 19th October at KoKo presenting Moderat. Buy tickets here: I'll be seeing them the night after in Amsterdam for my birthday trip to ADE :)

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