Monday, 27 April 2009

Monday, 20 April 2009

Steve Bug @ Cool House

Steve Bug- Poker Flat label boss, Fabric 37 contributor, and general all round minimal & tech house master- played in Cardiff for the first time last weekend. The opportunity to see Steve Bug playing for Cardiff club stalwarts Cool House was one not to be missed, and even co-author Thomas managed to make it down, despite being based in Berlin! Such commitment to the cause....

We arrived early expecting it to be busy, but at half past ten Glo seemed to only just be filling up. The residents were playing a good mix of cool house to a gradually filling camo-net lined dancefloor to get the mood building for the main event.

Steve Bug took to the decks at midnight and launched into a three hour exploration of his signature brand of deep and tech-house sounds. He had the crowd constantly moving, and the vibe building with some big drops. For the entire set the floor was filled, but much to my amazement not rammed, with some seemingly content to stay in the bar and not venture to the dancefloor. About two hours in, the set momentarily seemed to be on the brink of heading into techno territory... Ben Klock's Subzero seemed to signal a move to a darker destination. However, much to my disappointment, Bug pulled back and the darkness receded, to be replaced by his renowned poker Flat sound. The final half hour saw some big records, the highlight being Wink's Superfreak, which created mayhem on the dance floor. As the lights came on, the crowd yelled for more, but to no avail- after a dissapointing final tune, we left to contemplate the night's entertainment.

All in all, Cool House lived up to expectations as one of the best promoters in Cardiff- they sure know how to throw a mean party even in a city with a comparatively small scene. Steve Bug played a good set with flawless technique, but I must say I expected more from such a big name international DJ- but perhaps that's just me being penickerty!

Top tracks of the night:
Josh Wink- Superfreak
Brothers' Vibe- Feelin' House
Ben Klock- Subzero (i think it was, anyway)
Steve Bug- Trees can't dance

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Fourty minutes for a friend

Recorded in mid-march, this is the final mix from winter. Things are warming up now in the Stadt, and following shortly on this mix, springstarts: 
maybe we've come out the other side. 
March 2009, recorded in Berlin

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

its not just berghain...

 Rechenzentrum & RAW-Temple

It’s a Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, in fact, and it’s one am in Berlin’s Fredrichshain district. Seems spring has come rapidly in the cold shadow of winter: sun for a week here has led people to be outside, and barbecues have started with a vengeance. But to the point: Wednesday, one am, RAW-Temple. Outside, the air is warm but with the crisp bite of early April and perhaps two hundred people are milling around the courtyard space of this disused railway goods yard. And the dull thud of a four-four beat pushes its way grudgingly through the walls of the nineteenth century storehouse.

The stalwarts of Berlin’s electronic music scene are well known. Berghain, Watergate, Weekend, to give them their dues, are second to none. But, step a little outside, just a little, and things show a different side. The quota of ‘cool’ is unavoidable in the places with a name. People fly here at the weekend for nights and days of unrivalled club music and they bring a self-conscious ambition and attitude: not negative, just slightly ‘try-hard’. Nobody flies to Berlin for a two-euro entrance night of techno/electro from a no-big-name dj and live-act on a Tuesday night in Freidrichshain.

I’ve had a few nights of dancing in the Hauptstadt over the last couple of years, and its been those places you don’t plan on going to days in advance, that have cropped up on the night, that have delivered. Those places where entrance is cheap, door-selection minimal, and the atmosphere unsophisticated. Disregarding the current ‘deep’ trend in house and techno, RAW-Temple produced a refreshingly fast-paced, percussive dose of hard-edged minimal on a sound-system that, for a venue of limited means (a community based project for affordable cultural space) packed a punch far above its weight. And, also refreshingly, the partygoers seemed there for a party: not to be seen in, or see, the scene. The performers had names, of course, but there last night, I couldn’t give a damn: it didn’t matter.

And then you get surprised, again. Ballhaus Ost, with Ben Klock at the Delikat records birthday party, with a crowd more ready to really dance to Klock’s rhythm than some at his residency in Berghain. Or a small-scale loft-party in Kreuzberg with a less-than-perfect sound-system, but a more than perfect atmosphere: simple minimal music that was, you know, minimal. And its OK to call it that.

A scene’s a scene, obviously. And in that context, the one here is superb, and open... But, just once in a while, it pays to not pay so much, to expect a little less and get a little more.

Summers coming now. And that means outdoors. And right now, I’m looking forward to travelling out to those places that are harder to get to, but so worth the effort. Rechenzentrum’s open now, and for me, its hard to beat.

But more on that when its here…

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Vinyl only #2

For the second installment of the vinyl only series i've chosen to post another record I know very little about, a release on a new label from Berlin's Hardwax by The Hauntologists. Who knows if this is a release by Hardwax regulars, or a new find; it has a trippy, reduced house sound that is difficult for me to pin to a particular producer. The four tracks draw from a limited palette of material, but the results move from deep house to a more techy vibe by the end of the EP. The sound is somewhere between the slowhouse Workshop series and the techno sound Hardwax is known for, and perhaps shows an interesting experimental direction to be continued in the future.