It’s the first time since 2012 that Ricardo Villalobos has graced the damp streets of Manchester with his world-renowned minimal magic. So it’s with heavy anticipation that I approach the entrance to Gorilla and descend into it’s dark steamy underbelly. It’s about half eleven and already the place is being filled with an eager looking crowd. A lively warm up set from Zutekh’s, Daniel ‘Quixano’ Henriques fuels the building energy, as the room steels itself for a night that many have waited too long for . As the floor begins to fill up the atmosphere is one of anxious anticipation, it’s tight but there is space to manoeuvre. Space which is being utilised to the full by the white leather jacket in front of me, who seems intent on teaching anyone who will listen how to slut drop.
In what seemed like no time fellow Chilean DJ Umho, with a face dominated by a wide cheeky grin, takes over the decks. Since playing alongside Villalobos at Cocoon, Amnesia in 2009 Umho has spent the last six years spreading his spellbinding minimal tech sets all over the world, in a style he calls “groove travelling”. He warms up the scene well, moving away from the more hard-hitting tech house, settling the show into a much more subtle, elegant sound, caressing the amassed with warm kicks and euphoric melodies. The set continues to maraud through the night, gathering a steady momentum that charges the room. The strip lighting and well refined sound system – kudos to Zutekh – start to come into their own, delivering an enthralling and engaging wave of atmospheric bliss.
The scene is set perfectly, as a blast of appreciation from the crowd heralds the return of the maestro himself, the four-year wait is quickly forgotten as the humid energy reaches fever pitch. The intimacy of the night takes hold, an international headliner playing to 700 people, as the four to the floor techno kicks whip the crowd into a cluster bomb. Villalobos floats the vocals from C’hantal ‘The Realm’ over the driving melody of ‘Hows Your Evening So Far?’ Josh Wink & Lil Louis, masterfully moulding the crowd into one giant restless wave. Constantly keeping the crowd in limbo between recognition and uncertainty, unable to identify seemingly familiar tracks I was never really certain of what I was hearing.
The effect was completely hypnotic, I found myself craving each change in bassline or key, just desperate to hear what he was going to do next. Momentarily the trance was broken as the crowd respond to Josh Wink’s ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ with outstretched arms and a bellow of appreciation. A spectacle which, over three and a half hours became something a ritual, as Villalobos with a deep, devious grin on his face filled the room with resounding, unrestrained techno, from all corners of the globe.
Heading home, out in the inky early morning dampness, I was more than impressed with everything the night had to offer. Both of the Chilean spinners held nothing back, and looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves as much as everyone else. Zutekh didn’t put a foot wrong either, providing a good sound system and creating a captivating atmosphere, without overfilling the venue. Lets just not leave it another four years ey?
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