Animaux | UK

Sacha Robotti & Kevin Knapp – Stay With It EP

Mar
17

This April sees Sacha Robotti and Kevin Knapp‘s newest EP’s – Stay With It – release on Lost Records. This is not the first time the pair have worked together – 2015 saw their tune “Thump Bumper” get released on the ten-year anniversary compilation of Claude Von Stroke’s Dirtybird label.

I had a chance to hear “Stay With It” EP and I will not lie – it caught me a little off-guard. I enjoy tech-house quite a bit, however, the sheer amount of releases, most mediocre, means that often I am left with ten songs that sound the same. This is especially evident when it comes to EP’s – usually one original track bundled with a few remixes that all sound the same – there is just so much iteration even I can take. This meant I went into this EP with zero expectations and I was very pleasantly surprised.

It all starts with the title track “Stay With It” – groovy tech-house rhythm peppered with male vocal samples and a bouncy bassline. Sounds all too familiar so far, right? Wrong. Groovy synth stabs, a long quirky lead, manipulation of the bassline you had come to rely on while going through the song, multiple sound effect samples and great breakdowns are what make this track an absolute joy to listen to. The sounds of summer are here!

The same thought process of layering vocals, a constantly building up synth in the background, the now familiar vocal applies to the second tune of the EP – “The Hip”. For the first four minutes, I was entranced by the bouncy rhythm and being told to watch the hip, after that, however, they pull out the rug from under you in the best way possible with a beast of a build up. Once you realise what the hell happened you are back down grooving away to the beat shouting “THE HIP!”.

The two remixes are on point too – Toucán strips “Stay With It” of its tech-house roots and reshapes into a lovely “sun-is-out” kind of house jam. Dale Howard, however, took his remix of “The Hip” in a different direction with a 90s twist on things. Old school synths, mangled up vocals and an absolute beast of a breakdown bring a smirk to my face every time I hear it and I cannot wait to lay this one down at the next Animaux.

Sacha Robotti and Kevin Knapp’s “Stay With It” EP drops sometime in April on Lost Records.

Zutekh Presents: Ricardo Villalobos, at Gorilla

Mar
14

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.

Photo by Gemma Parker Photography

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.

Photo by Gemma Parker Photography

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?

Check out Zutekh’s Facebook page for more events!

Review: Neana – NSWL020

Mar
11

Neana is no new kid to dance music, the youngster has been producing with his notorious crew for a couple of years and despite being a young kid in many people’s eyes, the lad has delivered as a DJ, producer and as a personality.

In November 2015 a documentary was released on him and his crew ‘Gang Fatale’ made up of big names like Trap Door and Ra Ra. Neana discuss their rise to prominence in dance music, the rise of tribe-tech and overall the viewer is astonished by how much a group of teens have achieved in such a short space of time. He started producing at 14 in Kendall in the lake district and eventually developed to create monster tunes like “Yeezus 2” “Hotel Vobez” and “42 Dunjunz”. He mentions how slowly time passes in his isolated village but he’s grateful for his rural upbringing as it influenced his early work radically. Neana recently released NSWL020, his second release on the London label Night Slugs who have signed people such as L-Vis 1990, Bok Bok and Jam City.

NSWL020 is a two-track EP with Neana’s own Nightshade and his remix of Bok Bok’s less well-known tune Foxtrot. Nightshade opens up as a relatively lo-fi and subtle tune with some really nice guitar sampling with some atmospheric texturing. The cover, a few deck chairs on a port by the sea is a great image which nicely symbolizes the vibes of the release, two tracks heavily influenced by central European techno and house with certain holiday-esque Italian or Spanish tones. The tune then at around 1:30 plunges into an absolutely filthy bass line. With a typically fast pace time signature and a tribal-esque bass line, this is nothing out of the ordinary for a Night Slugs release.

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After listening to Neana’s insane boiler room set god knows how many times, I realize this would not be out-of-place in one of his typically hard-hitting sets. This tune does lack the poppy, R&B and sometimes satirical sampling that we are used to hearing from Neana. The occasional Kanye line such as “STRAIGHT OUT THE SALON” or Three Six Mafia’s dirty vocal sample is chucked into his sets but this release has reduced tribe-tech to its roots: atmospheric, dark and almost atlantic backing with hard-hitting basslines and gorgeous snares. Neana’s Foxtrot remix deserves equally as much praise, it packs the bassey punch that Foxtrot so proudly delivers and in my opinion improves the original drums as well as having more interesting production. Overall a really impressive take on the genre from Neana and as the 12” sold out in a couple of days in late February I look forward to hearing more of him in the scene.

I’ve played Nightshade at a small block party and on a big sound system it sounds absolutely incredible, I prefer Nightshade due to its more creative sampling and original sound however for a remix Foxtrot is a highly impressive tune. Foxtrot was featured as a Boiler Room debut which came to my surprise, however after seeing Shamos’s tune “Ode to Lynch” and Commodo’s remix of Hi5Ghost’s “Nook Shot” I felt Boiler Room would deliver the goods for 2016, the year of the bleep. Neana has definitely made a name for himself over the past few months and this release has proved his competence as a producer which I am happy to see. Let’s hope Night Slugs deliver the goods on their next release, no doubt it will be a banger.

Tessellate: Konstantin Sibold @ The Pickle Factory, London

Feb
16

It would have been hard to find The Pickle Factory if we weren’t looking for it. Its anonymous façade artfully conceals the many wonders that lie beyond the sound-proof doors, squeezed between the street and a modest tower of stacked shipping containers. The Pickle Factory, I am told, used to be an actual pickle factory back in the days, stoking the wild fantasies of many pickle enthusiasts. It’s glorious pickle days came to an end some time later when the building was converted into a medical supply storage. Eventually, the building found its true calling when Oval Space — the iconic East London music venue — carved out of a derelict storage facility the slick and intimate venue that it has now become.

The Pickle Factory

Sometime in 2013, Oval Space took over the neighbouring used-to-be pickle factory envisioning a polished, fresh, and cosy environment; a welcoming nook in the grimy, punchy skyline, dominated by the towering gasometers of Bethnal Green. The venue was specifically designed to deliver unrivalled sound quality and clarity. Stripped of visual tinsel of any sort, at The Pickle Factory the spotlight shines on the sound system as warm, curvy bass lines and limpid highs wash through the minimalist room. The unrivalled sound quality is complemented by the venue’s impressive booking policy. Indeed, The Pickle Factory can boast amongst its guests some of the most interesting names in contemporary electronic music. Up-and-coming event brand ‘Tessellate’, brings to The Pickle Factory, London non other than Konstantin Sibold of Innervisions.

Konstantin Sibold

“Konstantin Sibold (Innervisions/Caramelo) [All nacht long]” read the RA event description. And indeed, as commanded by a longstanding German tradition, Konstantin Sibold thumped the dance floor for seven long hours until the crack of dawn. Known for becoming Stuttgart’s club Rocker 33 youngest resident in 2009, Konstantin Sibold was newcomer of 2013 for Groove Magazine and is widely appreciated as an innovating force across the spectre of electronic music. With Mr. Sibold, techno and house meet as if for the first time; brushed by indie and disco, his sets reinterpret the intersection of these genres in a distinctively fresh, full-of-life way.

The format at The Pickle Factory, seven hours of Sibold and only Sibold, met exceedingly well with his style, allowing for a thorough induction to the sounds that define Konstantin Sibold as an artist and a music lover. The marathon-set allowed for a nuanced understanding of Konstantin Sibold’s work, highlighting the unity of his style: eclectic, one could say, when contrasted with some of his colleagues’ lengthy sets. Heavily indie-influenced, the set alternated fuzzy, dazing tunes and thumping beats: and the crowd faded into a subsided lull, only to rise in frenzy again, as if rhythmically breathing with the set. Disco also made occasional appearances, much to the audience’s delight. Indeed, if you needed further proof of disco’s resurgence, Konstantin Sibold at The Pickle Factory would probably have convinced you. Masterfully weaved into the fabric of the set, its joyfully forceful entrances stoked boys and girls alike, and the crowd devoured any tune that would only just hint a 70s resemblance.

Leaving our beloved Pickle Factory, the clear blue sky slowly drifts from a deeply intense blue to a glowing pastel azure, against the suggestive post-industrial relics of East London. Bathed in the dawn’s chilly wind, I make my way back through the shuttered gentrified streets leading to Shoreditch. All in all a fantastic night! Special thanks to Konstantin Sibold and the guys at Tessellate!

Konstantin Sibold will next play in his hometown, Stuttgart, on the 23rd of February at Kraftwerk Rottweil. Check out his schedule HERE.

Tessellate returns to Corsica Studios in London with: Space Dimension Controller (Clone / R&S), Murat Tepeli (Potion/OstGut Ton), Dorisburg (Aniara / Bossmusik), and residents on the 12th of March. Check it out HERE.

Intergalactic Journey or Bart Skils – “Black Vans”

Feb
12

It was a busy summer for Amsterdam’s revered techno zealot, with his own festival ‘Voltt Loves Summer’ celebrating a decade at the forefront of the dutch techno scene. Opening it’s doors to some 20,000 people it’s fair to say that Bart Skils’ 20 year-long mission to bring the world’s most exciting and innovative techno to his home city looks to have been, somewhat accomplished. However, I don’t think he sees it that way. Somewhere between hand picking a line up of some of the most exciting artists from around the world, and juggling a tour schedule with more dates than the Mayan calendar, Skils always makes time to retreat into his studio, or as he calls it, his “personal music heaven”.

Renowned the world over for creating some of the most spellbinding and concise techno of his era, an esteem reinforced with the release of his fourth EP ‘Lost Boys’ on Drumcode last June, there is no doubt that the announcement of his new offering produced a ripple of excitement amongst the techno faithful. ‘Black Vans’ marks a fifth release on, Adam Beyer’s Swedish behemoth Drumcode, a feat which is a testament to Skils’ consistency, and luckily for us his scintillating recipe for creating deep, driving techno hasn’t lost any of it’s potency. Leading the charge, title track ‘Black Vans’ definitely fits in with Skils’ own description of his music as “stripped rolling techno”. A deep pulsating kick drum forms the backbone, lurking beneath an undulating, and menacingly tentative bass synth which teases you throughout. Occasionally pierced with sharp, discordant highs, the combination produces a subtle sense of urgency, which slowly grows, becoming a theme throughout the release.

The next track ‘Fifth Gear’ feels like a step up in energy. Flowing well from the urgency of ‘Black Vans’, the leap in key creates a feel of imminence, almost as if the two songs have been building up to a climax and have now reached the precipice. Once again foreboding and heavy bass forms the foundation, slowly followed by a carefully woven high synth which reverberates during the build ups to elicit a tense choral effect. The well crafted mixture of repetition and subtlety work together to create a solid tune, one that reflects Skils’ description of “stripped techno”.

‘Starfighter’, the third installment, really puts pay to Skils’ versatility in the studio. A heavy
repeating drum loop is overlayed by a lingering, distant vocal, dripping with an almost static charge. Suddenly the atmosphere is perforated, high-pitched needle like notes sting through the established beat, heralding the introduction of the lead synth’s repeating, warped verse which seems to orbit your ears. The way this track’s illusive groove resonates inside your head like a trapped wasp really sets it aside as something that feels genuinely fresh.

The fourth and final track in his latest offering, really outlines what an accomplished producer Skils is. Filled with deep, piston like drums, delicately placed reverberating vocals and clever, enticing lead synths, ‘Rising Sun’ has a real kinetic feel, with bags of potential energy. To my mind, ‘Black Vans’, as a whole, seems to hold a real feeling of motion. It’s as if each song represents a new stage of a compelling, evocative journey. A theme which is prominent throughout the release, Skils uses a clever combination of tension and release giving each track a definite purpose or destination. Whether you agree or not, one thing is certain, Skils and Drumcode have produced an EP that continues a long running theme of dark masterful techno from a partnership that continues to push boundaries.

You can get Bart Skils – “Black Vans” EP over at Beatport.

The Warehouse Project, unique every time.

Nov
17

For the past few years, since my interest directed itself towards the clubbing scene, there has been one event everyone around me has been talking about. The annual line-up announcements are preceded by weeks of chatter; booking speculations and defiant statements of intent, swearing attendance to this apparently momentous occasion. I never quite understood the hype, the cynic that I am, associating excitement with inevitable let-down; and so with mixed emotions I made my way to Manchester, home of the Warehouse Project, to see what the fuss was about.

One of the most historic Warehouse Projects yet, showcasing the final stand of the 50Weapons label, with Rødhåd, Siriusmodeselektor, Truncate, Dark Sky, Clark, Addison Groove, and the rest testing British build quality. The label’s end has been lamented as the biggest tragedy of dance music this year, as saying goodbye to ten years of service and an all-star roster can be, but there were no tears shed at this event.

The venue is hidden away near Manchester Piccadilly station, the entrance a gap in a wall under a bridge. I say hidden, but it was hard to miss with the amount of security set up outside – from pat-downs to dogs – methodically ushering the crowds into the dark innards of the bridge. There was a feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be seeing this location, hidden in plain sight, that hundreds of people unknowingly walk past every day. Upon entering the structure I was immediately lost in cavernous red-brick (as if you can tell in the dark) rooms full of bustling ravers, all facing two stages at opposite ends of the venue. The light shows were impressive and unique to every artist, each performance is clearly separated from the last, making it seem like a kind of honour for the artist to be present. Surprisingly, I found gourmet food being served in the smoking area and a variety of affordable cocktails at the bar. This is an event that is prepared for anything its patrons might desire, leaving it hard to not have a good time. After a short wander around the space the fuss friends, strangers and acquaintances had been making was explained.

Even more impressive was the religious following of this event, as it seemed people had travelled from around the world for this night. These were not just students or young professionals living in Manchester, they were people who had travelled from France, Switzerland, Spain, even Germany (a Berghain regular proclaimed his love of the event to me) just for the weekend, or even the night. If this is the crowd that attends every Warehouse Project, then it is a crowd that has invested hundreds of pounds to live it up on this one night, undoubtedly contributing to the unique atmosphere.

Of course, the system and the music did not disappoint. I was particularly surprised by Clark’s live set, beginning with the somber melodies that define him before ramping up into, what must have been over, a 140 bpm marathon set. From this Truncate made his appearance on the main stage, delving into what a bystander announced to be “sounds of scratching metal”, in a set showcasing the best of 50weapons techno. From the gloom of Truncate, Modeselektor built up to a live-set with Siriusmo. The performance was unbelievably varied, moving from left-field house to dub before the crux of German Clap and Evil Twin. The level of interaction with the crowd was incredible, Gernot Bronsert grabbed the microphone and began cheering “modeselektor” before breaking out the deep vocals of Evil Twin, joining the crowd’s cheers. Last but not least, I enjoyed Rødhåd’s militant thumping, that I’m sure we are all acquainted with by now, adequately placed in the closing slot. I remember the bitter-sweet, minor-key synths escorting me to my 4.50 am train.

Needless to say, I will be attending the Warehouse Project again. If you haven’t been you should go, there aren’t really any excuses especially if you live in England and enjoy dance music. This is the closest you can get to a festival in the winter months, without the inconvenience (to some) of having to camp out. Those Europeans were having the best time, and you could be too.

More info on the rest of WHP shows: https://www.thewarehouseproject.com/

Review: Grimes’ newest venture “Art Angels”

Nov
11

Since about late 2012 until last Friday I have been ready to slate this album. After she quite rightly gained international stardom with Visions (2012) Grimes kept hinting at a move to pop music, so we knew her fourth full album would be a pop one. I took this perhaps a bit too personally – Grimes has acted as an inspiration for thousands of people, in particular young women (like myself), to become involved in electronic music so her move felt like a betrayal. Pop doesn’t need you, I do. But after 3 years of saving up lots of ideas of mean things to say out of spite Art Angels is not actually deserving of it.

Claire Boucher

No, it isn’t revolutionary or brimming with brilliance, but it isn’t a bad album. Claire Boucher remains a talented musician and has creating some catchy enjoyable songs that I’m not embarrassed to say I listen to. At first I was convinced that Art Angels is carried by the obvious singles of the album. One frequently noted qualm is that a lot of the songs fall flat and are soon forgotten, so I wasn’t the only one with this fear. However, after giving myself the weekend I have come to accept that it is a grower. No one would claim it is an album full of hits, but the more you listen the more you find the songs have something that pulls you back.

So what can you actually expect? The first thing you notice in the orchestral opening track laughing and not being normal is she hasn’t forgotten her ambient tones that helped build her and we do see her unique personality continually in Art Angels – it isn’t the cold, straightforward pop album so many feared. Hell, most people probably wouldn’t even call it a pop album. Too much weirdness for that. The second thing you notice is that it has a build in “fuck you” to everyone like me who spoke ill of Grimes for changing. The second track, California, is the first where you can actually make out her lyrics and opens with:

“This, this music makes me cry
It sounds just like my soul, oh
Oh I’m not ready to win
Oh lord cause I don’t wanna know what they say
Cause I get carried away
Commodifying all the pain

Well now I just feel bad. Sorry…

The third thing you notice is just how much variety there really is in this album. There’s some Americana sounds, K-pop, guitars, violin, ukulele. Much more than the synth-heavy songs of previous work. This increased diversity and globalisation works. It increases her appeal which, let’s face it, is just good marketing and it prevents stagnation. Grimes fans would be complaining more if she had stuck with the old ways. Turns out I quite enjoy listening to Grimes songs where I can’t do a direct comparison to Oblivion (considered song of the decade), which was probably the aim.

Finally, the fourth thing you notice is that a lot of heart and thought has gone into these songs. Layered, rich and well produced they are clearly objects of affection. Kill V. Maim, Pin, Realiti and Venus Fly (feat. Janelle Monáe) are probably the highlights.

Concluding remarks? I have to admit, I was wrong to judge so quickly and so harshly, I don’t hate Art Angels. It isn’t going to change the face of music, or even become one of my favourite albums, but it does what pop should do – have you humming along whilst you focus on something else.

Jamie XX’s ‘In Colour’ tour – Hackney and back again [Luxembourg]

Oct
23

Warming a chilly autumnal evening, Jamie xx visits Den Atelier in Luxembourg. His “In Colour” tour is elegantly designed to offer the world a taste of the UK’s clubbing scene and its heritage, as well as to challenge first impressions by exploring the vast and varied sound of his debut album. Jamie xx offered a surprisingly heavy set to a very demanding audience, occasionally dipping into the mellow sounds of “In Colour” that have so pleasantly painted our summers.

Jamie XX

Just as days shorten rapidly and the October skies turn grey, suddenly invaded by uninvited clouds, Jon Rust opened lulling the crowd into a colourful flashback, bathing the room in countless shades of blue, red, and green. He welcomed the swelling crowd with sounds reminiscent of summer and spring. His opening set leaped from mellow ambient tunes to house bangers, before eventually introducing the audience to the characteristically rich basslines that thump in London clubs every weekend.

Acclaimed by the impatient pack of 800, Jamie xx cheekily announces his arrival on stage with his own “Stranger In a Room” and quickly follows with Radiohead’s ethereal “Everything In It’s Right Place” to produce a misty, tense atmosphere. The haze quickly dissipates, however, as the unsuspecting mob was thrust deep into what was to become the body of Jamie’s performance: an all-round guided tour of the unique sounds of British clubs. A tour regularly punctuated by an encompassing selection of Jamie’s own repertoire, exploring the malleability of the tunes that we have become so accustomed to hear since “In Colour”’s release in late May.

Throughout the night, Jamie xx provided a hand-picked selection of the sounds that define British nightlife steering the set through years of morphing musical realities, meshing UK garage with house, grime, and bass-heavy techno. All along the way, the set highlighted similarities between Jamie’s production and the varied genres that were touched. With imposing delicacy, the crowd was teased into appreciating the versatility, depth and complexities of Jamie’s top-charters. Complexities which can often go unnoticed given the ease with which the album flows from open to close, and the seemingly simple sounds that permeate every track, from “Gosh” to “Girl”.

As the bass subsided a little, leaving scope for more melodic genres, the room was again submerged in a colourful haze and tracks thought to be known inside out revealed new dimensions. Introduced by tribal percussions and jungle beats, and followed by the hottest grime tune of the night, the single “All Under One Roof Raving” morphed into a distinct yet identical version of itself, acquiring a new location in the spectrum of electronic music. “I Know-How There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” was announced by The Persuasions’s 1972 tune that it samples, highlighting strong R&B vibes otherwise muted by more prominent features of the track. After flirting briefly with trap, dub finally fades over the tail of Popcaan and Young Thug’s lines: the beginning of the end.

Jamie xx leaves the stage after engulfing the room with Girl’s warm flow. Like his album, this fantastic musical journey could only have ended with an ode to the cradle of Jamie’s unique and irresistible sound.

Review: MINT Festival

Sep
23

After a short and very very speedy ride via bus (bloody terrifying I might add) I had arrived at Wetherby Racecourse. As I was admiring the views on my brisk walk up to the entrance checkpoints, I was greeted by the all too familiar sound of bass thumping in the distance. MINT festival was well under way.

Picture by Mantas Zalepuga

This year the festival had 6 arenas, down from last year’s 8. This, however, did not mean the festival was at all smaller – for the first time MINT Festival went on for two days. All of the arenas were under massive marquees to prevent any nasty weather spoiling the fun and each and every stage had huge LED screens for visuals. The sound was top-notch in majority of the arenas, with a few exceptions – mainly the GOODGRIEF & Digital Society stage, the hard dance tent, although as I am no purveyor of this genre I might be wrong on this one.

I spent most of my time on Saturday at the MINT Presents stage (Jungle Jam & Detonate on Sunday). Even though it was empty when I arrived (around 1PM), it quickly filled up for George Fitzgerald. Thoroughly enjoyable performance – even if a little underwhelming. The best way to describe his set is that if you have had the pleasure of seeing him once before or even watched any of his Boiler Room sets then you have experienced the same I did at MINT. Again, thoroughly enjoyable, yet not remotely memorable.

Maya Jane Coles took the stage next (and delivered) and as I have had seen her before, I took a wander around the grounds. Other stages at MINT included the very aptly named “Bitch” stage for all of the EDM ‘artists’, the Blasé Boys Club  stage with performances from the likes of Kiwi (thoroughly enjoyed bouncing to his deep house grooves), Waze & Odyssey, Tiga and Duke Dumont. The Knee Deep in Sound (Prism, Circular & Deja Vu on Sunday) stage played host to the likes of Green Velvet, Hot Since 82 and Denney. Last but certainly not least we had the System & Set Twenty One arena (Elrow on Sunday) where one of Animaux’s favourite guests Annie Errez performed alongside Premiesku (LIVE), Apollonia and Luciano among others. As you can see there was a huge variety of stages, artists and music genres which benefited all the punters – everyone had somewhere to go and someone to be very excited about.

I returned to the MINT Presents stage for Martinez Brothers and even though I had high expectations for them I was completely blown away. These two really know how to put on a party and the their two-hour set felt like a very welcome explosion of euphoria. Everyone around me – including the bouncers and guys backstage were grooving with huge grins on their faces. Highlight of MINT and I cannot recommend them enough.

Photo by Mantas Zalepuga.

Mister Sven Väth was up next and I could not imagine anyone more suited to follow the Martinez Brothers’ show. The stage designers, light and visual guys, pyrotechnics and everyone else went all out to make Sven’s set look amazing but therein lies the issue. It looked amazing – lasers, fireballs, amazing visuals and lighting were top-notch however when it came to the actual set.. I was very underwhelmed, the long intro was setting it up to be something it never really became and even though I am a huge fan of minimal techno people wanted a proper belter of a set to close the first day of the festival and that never came. He weaned between bass and minimal techno and eventually it seemed people lost interest and the tent started losing people. Do not get me wrong, the music itself was amazing but with the reputation that Väth comes expectations were a lot higher than what was delivered.

And thus day one concluded and thousands of people tried to go home or Leeds for the afterparties. I say tried as the tiny roundabout next to the festival grounds got slammed by people trying to hail taxis, fighting and other usual post-festival malarkey. This has to be addressed next year as having hundreds of intoxicated people running on a road is bloody dangerous.

Sunday was a lot quieter – it seemed people’s batteries ran out on Saturday. Due to technical difficulties Elrow & Seth Troxler Presents stages were combined into one, however this ended up with quite a few unexpected yet fantastic b2b’s and all of the inflatables! Special mentions of the day go to Zip and Ricardo Villalobos back to back as well as Henrik Schwarz’s performance.

All in all MINT Festival was a truly great experience with a lot of fantastic artists and insane production quality. Recommend.

 

Queen of Panorama Bar – Margaret Dygas at Sorgente Sonora (MILAN)

Sep
17

As Milan is rapidly cooling down in anticipation of one of its notoriously rainy autumns, Margaret Dygas and her unique Panorama vibes inaugurate Sorgente Sonora’s 2015/2016 clubbing season at Tunnel Club, Milan.

Half a mile down Stazione Centrale’s western side, squeezed between graffiti plastered arches, Tunnel Club proved to be an unusual yet striking venue for a memorable night. Located along the border where Milan’s classy centre surrenders to it’s post-industrial outskirts, Tunnel Club provided a superb setting for Dygas’ elegant yet sometime bitter sound. The arched ceiling, dominated by a nostalgic disco ball, conveyed the cozy and intimate feeling that so deeply pervaded the night. The glittering ceiling exemplified Tunnel Club’s standing as a tiny jewel encrusted in the grizzling edge of Milan’s city centre.

Lost in the plumy haze of cigarette smoke, the crowd extended its way back from the stage to the doors. Packed with youths excited with the return of an ever richer Milanese clubbing scene, the night was truly evidence of the international reach that techno has recently achieved. What was a dying venue until the mid 2000s has reinvented itself as the gem described above, partly thanks to a genre that attracts so many young raving eyes on a grey mid-September night. And Margaret Dygas, true to the importance of her name in these circles, proved to be a formidable opening act for what should be a juicy season.

Picking up from the deep-housey tail end of Matteo Costa’s set, Ms. Dygas delves into the minimal sound that so uniquely characterises her. Throughout the night, only briefly and occasionally polluted by spontaneous choruses chanting ‘Margaret! Margaret!’, her set covered the most disparate sounds that her beloved Berlinese techno scene has to offer. Gradually taking off from the gentle beats she inherited from Costa, Dygas’ whipping snares hypnotically led the crowd to frenzy before softly landing on a more subsided beat, only to stoke the jumping audience back into hysteria.

Regularly dipping below the decks only to reappear moments after with the shadow of a record in her hand and a satisfied smile on her face, Maggie truly did offer the enthusiastic crowd an encyclopaedia of sounds. The set opened with Dygas’ characteristic crackling snappy sounds and effortlessly moved to darker territory as the set acquired shape. At the crack of dawn, Dygas put an end to her spell with dark voluptuous beats, releasing the captive crowd, and sending everyone off with memories of a set that one may only hope to hear in the most respectable Berlinese clubs.

As Dygas bid her farewells, the club regurgitated the fast dispersing crowd onto the pallid, deserted street. As sparse rays crack through anonymous grey clouds, I wind my way through a ravishing Milan flicking through fond memories of the night. Margaret, thank you!