Animaux | UK

Dixon & Âme – All Night Long – Albert Hall, Manchester.

Mar
26

Although both Dixon and Kristian Beyer (one-half of Âme) are very well known for their individual work, it’s hard to talk about either of them without mentioning Innervisions. Now in it’s eleventh year the label has grown to become one of the most talked about and innovative institutions in the industry. Since breaking away from Sonar Kollektiv Dixon, Beyer and Frank Wiedmann,­ the other half of Âme,­ have slowly, and not so quietly established the label as a beacon of quality in a saturated digital world. Their simple approach to their work, placing quality above all, has clearly paid off, with Dixon topping the resident advisor DJ chart three years running, and Âme (Beyer) in the top twenty in the last four, they have developed a solid pedigree. So when I discovered the Warehouse Project was bringing them to Manchester, I needed about as much persuasion to get tickets as a dog eyeing up an unattended burger stand.

More recently Innervisions have become known for their ‘Lost in a moment’ parties, a concept which has hosted some of the most unique, and perfectly crafted events on the industry calendar. ‘Lost In A Moment’ is all about finding that sweet spot where everything at a party clicks; location, sound system, music and lighting. Now I know it can’t really be said that The Albert Hall is not different compared to many other venues out there, it’s a four-story gothic chapel after all, but it is in danger of seeming run of the mill to a collective who are used to holding parties on their own island (Osea Island). Nevertheless, the atmosphere is gripping as we enter the main hall. The floor and upper tier are filling up with an excited looking rabble while the Innervisions pair gear up for what is sure to be a night of palpable emotion and energy. The stage is framed by the huge, century-old organ towering high above them, which seems to be pumping out the music with an almost demoniacal efficiency.

As we enter its Dixon who is in control, moulding the mood, his famous brand of melodic, brooding music, softly washing over everyone. With impeccable subtlety, the gentle harmonious tracks coerce our attention away from the bar to the stage. A slick lighting set up pulsates into view, greeting those arriving with lush vibrant orange and blue rays. His his first stint comes to an end and the headphones are casually passed to Kristian, the crowds movement starts to synchronize with the beat, the room submitting to their spinning wizardry. Kristian steps in, providing a new sense of urgency to the starting pace set by Dixon, his masterfully picked techno starts to reverberate round the room to a chorus of whoops and hollers. The crisp punching kicks are layered over and under with haunting dark distortion that gradually increases over the next 45 minutes, building in intensity. We’re 3 hours in and already it’s pretty clear, the German masters have no intention of slowing down, quite happy to leave a good many people around me in a state of hypnotised anticipation.

As the next few hours flowed over us, Beyer and Dixon casually rotate every 45 minutes or so, always with a few words of intent into the others ear. The energy still continues to build, Beyer coming in with the injections of heavier, driving techno, fueling the throng of bouncing heads oscillating up and down, with military precision. Dixon moves in again, black cargo pants tucked into heavy black boots, it looks for a second like an army is drilling in front of its stern unflappable leader. He uses Beyer’s change of pace to weave in his felicitous beats, no doubt bespokely edited to fit exactly where he wants them. He cements the atmosphere with a newly flourished vehemence as track after track of pounding techno permeates everything in the ex-methodist church shelter.

Unable to pinpoint exactly where the time has just gone the night draws towards its ultimatum. In the last hour and a half, we are emotionally dragged between hair-raising hand in the air build ups riddled with feverish anticipation, and colossal mind mincing drops that smack a look of ecstatic perplexion onto everyone’s faces. All except Dixon whose steely demeanour is replaced with a sly, cheeky grin. Gradually the house lights begin to brighten, the organ is bathed in a diffuse deep orange light, the inky shades of night artificially turned to dawn. Dixon, sympathetically switches the pace to an ethereal chorus, chiming around a lingering bassline which slowly fades out, leaving the room to revel in the contented afterglow of what has been, simply a special night.

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/