Monday, 23 September 2013

29th Aug: Actress @ St Johns Sessions / 30th Aug: Plex @ The Waiting Rooms / 31st Aug Colony @ Corsica Studio

Welcome. You can follow adventures on twitter here and Soundcloud here but not on FB coz that is for the inner circle of initialled ones only. There is also a Google calendar on the top right of this blog detailing events worth taking a look at.

Well I was going to review Actress @ St. Johns Sessions but it's not even worth my time. The music was actually fine but the rest of it was poorly executed and I can't be bothered to discuss the most boring 2hrs of my life that I will never claw back.

And so swiftly we move on to Plex Basement Sessions, a small night with a secret line up held at The Waiting Room, Stoke Newington - a timber clad basement bar with cheery promoter and resident Luke Handsfree on the door. I keep missing Plex, much to my own detriment and disappointment. Twice I have planned to go and twice I have fallen asleep at home and missed it after a hard week at work. The last time we missed Rrose and I was mortified. So this time, we had mates over beforehand to ensure no sleepytimes and we drove there so when I got sleepy we could just zip home. That's how us grown ups roll.

We arrived to see that the line up was the Clairvoyants and Cristian Vogel. Me, the uneducated among us, had no idea who either of these names were, but I was assured that Vogel was going to be special and, from what I was hearing when I walked in, Clairvoyants are also rather good.

There was a delightful bounce in the airwaves when we hit the dance floor. It was the kind of techno you could take your non-techno loving mates to and they would love it and ask you "what's this?" and you'd say "techno" and they would look stunned. Lotts and NH were dancing about like crazy little animated Duracell bunnies at the front with the rest of us trying to keep up. The tunes got deeper and more banging and finished with a track full of carnival drums. And I was in a happy clappy cheery mood and off to the bar to await Vogel. 

PA had a quick word with Cristian Vogel before he went on and was told that the man would be treating is too a 20yr retrospective of all the tunes he loves from then to now. A journey through time and techno. Lovely. 

I found the tunes at the start a bit all over the show but NH said she loved it, that it was playful and she made gestures of squashing and squelching things with her hands as she danced. This made me think of how to explain the tunes... The music was like watching balloon modelling. Squeaks and twists and random big breaths and colourful things expanding and being twisted into fun stuff. It was exciting but it made no sense.

Barely noticeable but a frequent occurrence - it sounded like tunes did keep skipping a beat here and there. I imagine very old damaged vinyl if it's from 20 years ago! Tempos changed up and down with ease. It was all quite disjointed but not without focus, sounding to me like something robots would break dance too - superfast, frenetic and unpredictable. When everything did sound like it was about to train crash at full speed Vogel styled it out with ultra coolness like that was exactly what he was going for. Who knows, maybe he was.

Suddenly TIR, Lotts, NH and PA all vanished upstairs for smokes and air, most of them a bit put off by the very niche line in techno hitting our ears. Bearing in mind the crowd was small to start off with, we half emptied the dance floor in one fell swoop. My triple esspresso started wearing off and our ears next to the speakers were in danger of getting temporary tinnitus near the front and so we went to the back and I had a sit down. 1:30am and I was tired. Observing the dance floor, it really wasn't very busy. The advance tickets had all sold out so I was expecting it to be a heaving sweat box but there was only about 50 people in the room. It was by no means empty and the dance floor was still kinda busy. I expect that many people were taking a break after the Bank Holiday weekend before.

The set gradually got more cohesive and began to make sense and truck along in a nice direction through time and tunes. Not without its jarring mixes but all in Vogel style... Nothing was an accident. Moving into the era of 909s and synths Vogel hit the acid tracks at full on high BPMs. TIR popped back down from upstairs to tell me it was bad techno and he hates acid. Then he vanished. He and all the others all left with no goodbye! Bastards. Not so much as an air kiss. Humphf.

The dance floor thinned out a bit more. It was hard to get into any kind of groove and exhausting to keep up with the changes and pace. Although the overall pace gradually slowed, a few dancers were really going for it but many were just standing about undecided as the tracks got more intricate and atmospheric, sounding like a race of space age F1 engines. Then things turned to the kind of techno that I hate. That people who hate techno imagine it all sounds like. Almost hard house. Relentless drums at high speed  almost tripping 
Cristian Vogel
over themselves, with sweeping elongated mid range noises and the odd staccato synthy break. No charisma here. The kind of stuff best coped with on drugs - so you have the energy to keep up with it and the happiness to believe it sounds great.

Then fast thud thud thud thud thud thud thud thud with tinny high hats over the top. Proper mid 90s stuff. At that time I was at still at school and listening to Blur and Boyzone in my bedroom. And right at that moment all I wanted was peanut butter on toast and my PJs. At 2am the place suddenly filled up and dance floor was banging but I had switched off and needed my bed. 10 minute drive home. Amazeballs.

After a darn good nights sleep and a most excellent lasagna cooked by DSL came round 2 of the weekend. Colony Vs Scand at Corsica Studios. The last one of these I reviewed was a totally awesome night out and I was really looking forward to it - not least because our mate Simon Heartfield was on the line up with a live AV set. We arrived to no queue, polite security and a virtually empty club at 11:45pm. Simon was on at midnight. 

Now Simon may be a mate so you may see me as bias, but I don't know him that well at all. Trust me that if I can badmouth legends of techno on here, then I have no qualms telling my mates when they are crap. Let's face it - if I big them up for a bad job I am helping no one, least of all them. So I hope that you see that I really mean it when I say I was gutted for the techno community of London that they did not haul their arses out for this set as it was immense.

We've heard Simon play before and seen his AV sets but this was Simon Heartfield on an unusually angry day it seems! There was a march of bass drumming. Rhythms led by the lower end of octavial spectrum, which made for warm, tribal, strong, purposeful beats that got you marching, with lots of mid range riffs and very feint high end warm smooth rippling melody just on the fringes.

The visuals were interesting. I saw cabbages at one point, a london bus, hazard signage, led panels, binary
Simon Heartfield
code, buildings, machinery, numbers, more codes, it all felt like the music was telling a story and the visuals were a manila folder for a crime case being emptied out on the desk and pinned up on boards for us to string together all the clues. As each track became a new one we were getting ever closer to solving the case and the tension and energy built. I was on tenterhooks wondering who dunnit! That was the first half. I went for a loo break. It was a bit calmer and less angry when I got back, like whatever had happened had blown over and there was time for contemplation. The visuals slowed in pace too and I was more wobbling about on the spot than dancing to this bit.

15mins from the end the big purposeful march began again and pushed on and surged you forward. Kaboom. Home stretch. Mad dash to catch the culprit and solve the crime. A military operation. March! Bouncy bass lines, marching mid range this time with the odd vocal sample and a slightly more euphoric edge than at the start of the set. Layer built on layer upon layer til you felt like you were spinning, feeling totally focused but spinning in slow mo with the world blurring around you as you just... let... go. Music to get lost and immersed in. I loved it. It was like being in Inception rushing through story after story and then suddenly it ends and you just... wake up.

At this point The Wife (my bezzie mate who had come out with us) left for half an hour to go and eat. This brings me to an important whinge... Why is there no food in clubs? For those of us staying sober and eating our dinner at about 8pm, dancing is hungry work. And for those people drinking until they fall over, a plate of chips at 1am might save them. The psy trance nights I used to go to in my teens and early twenties always had hot drinks and some kind of hippie organic cake and snack stall. They were always packed and it is SO nice to have a tea and a munch then carry on dancing til the sun comes up. I can't think of one club in London that serves so much as a packet of crisps.

Venturing in to Scand's room 2 for Morphology live it was a definite breakbeat tip. The two of them were
Morphology Electronic
set up on a table in front of the DJ booth and the volume was pretty low for the earth shattering subs that we usually hear in there. It was weird being in there and hearing chatter and the walls not shaking.

The tunes were nice but a bit lackluster. The set kind of just pootled along with no real builds or breaks for ages. When a break did come, there was one the girl in front of me who totally went for it but she had more energy than the break required. Good to see some enthusiasm though as the tracks just glided onto the next thing. The production was nice & crisp. The room filled up a little more, with both people and smoke from the over exuberant smoke machine. Towards the end of the set things ramped up and we finally got some massive bass and the DJs looked like they were having a great time.

Szare was next up in Room 1. The crowd levels were low all over the club - again down to the big weekend before I expect. The place was a third full and needed a hefty injection of pizzazz. I went back into Room 2 Sync 24 & Innume. This wasn't grabbing me either but had more uplifting energy in its acid breaks than room 1. Al, DSL & RSK were stood about like the three stooges against the side wall looking shady. Personally I was in there not for the tunes but because it was mildly more party like and entertaining than room 1 with Szare. We went outside for chat and smokes, talking about beach holidays and how all holidays turn into rave ups for us lot. I am hankering after an actual beach and some quality cocktail and sunbathing time!

Oliver Ho
The only other set I was looking forward to was Raudive: aka Oliver Ho. Simon had tweeted earlier that his sound check had been amazing. I was excited.

He was good. Lots of different ideas and sounds and moved well from one to the other. Definite feel good energy. The girl from room 2 was in here. The one who had been dancing to the beat of her own drum and going mental at mediocre break downs earlier. Blue hair and blue all in one holographic outfit... Looked ready for taking to the stage at Cirque du Soleil. I was part gobsmacked and part mesmerised. She was full on body thrusting dancing at the drop of anything vaguely exciting. I was jealous of her enthusiasm. Wish I had a bit more. I was getting there. The set was moving me into a party mood and was overall highly enjoyable. DSL had his eyes shut shuffling about for ages. And that was how I felt, it sounded great and I just wanted to listen. Not dance really. Like a Boiler Room set in my living room - for appreciating but not participating.

The final DJ we saw was Truss. We went to get our coats and came back to full on machine gun techno. Quite often I can be found loving such sounds, but I need to a) build up to that and b) be surrounded by a crowd full of as much energy as the music. The room was empty, the crowd was hollow. And that is how I felt.

Overall I think this night just suffered from being the weekend after most people had been out two or three nights in a row and spent most of their wages already. And it's rare these days to find a DJ that caters their set to the crowd that is there and not what they pre-planned. More's the pity.

The Wife gave us a lovely lift home. I was starving. Time for more of DSL's lasagne!