Rumours of London’s creative demise have been greatly exaggerated. For despite the gloomy headlines lamenting the loss of a number of the UK capital’s most celebrated nightspots—this event itself was originally conceived as a response to the much-criticised closure of Fabric—promoters like The Hydra continue to curate lineups and launch spaces that rival that of any other city in the world.
Thus, it was as much with expectation as anticipation that Londoner’s welcomed the talents of techno luminaries Jeff Mills, Blawan, James Ruskin, DJ Stingray and Ancient Methods to Studio Spaces’ Warehouse as The Hydra joined forces with RA. Yet despite boasting a roster worthy of a small festival in its own right within the confines of it’s larger room, the club’s smaller area—the Black Studio—refused to be outdone, playing host to legendary fabric resident Craig Richards as he went back to back with DJ’s DJ Ben UFO, Shed under his Head High alias, drum & bass don DBridge, and the multifaceted selections of the continually impressive Saoirse.
Such was the array of talent on offer that timetabling problems were bound to occur and no amount of scheduling prowess would have prevented the inevitable set time clashes that would take place and our only real complaint is that we just couldn’t see everybody. Kick starting our night with the sounds of DJ Stingray, we found the Urban Tribe leader in fine form, laying down a carefully crafted opening salvo guaranteed to get the blood pumping and our synapses firing. A driving force in Detroit for more than two decades, the Drexciya collaborator more than lived up to the pre-show hype surrounding his performance, which in this age of ‘post-truths’ and internet hyperbole seems a rare enough thing. Following on from the masked man from the Motor City came the inimitable live stylings of German techno renegade Ancient Methods. Rattling the senses, the hour-long live session was a bruising encounter sure to have pleased those—like us—who are happy to embrace the darker side of electronic music while providing (just) enough light to keep the dancefloor moving.
There are few outfits within electronic music spoken about in such hushed and revered tones as Detroit’s Underground Resistance. Such was the influence of the politically charged collective of techno innovators to the scene that over two decades on its members and former members still continue to have a considerable impact. When the likes of Messrs Mills, Hood and Banks play we listen. And when Jeff plays like he did on this occasion we could listen to him all night as seemingly limitless amounts of energy flowed from the speakers to the crowd. Intensity, underpinned by melody, took the edge off an otherwise tough set of tracks as the veteran wove various soundscapes together into one cohesive—and in parts beautiful—sonic tapestry.
Tasked with succeeding Jeff’s performance were the capable hands of Blueprint boss James Ruskin in tandem with those of Barnsley-bred, Berlin-based Blawan who delivered a closing set that will live long in the memory. Keeping energy levels high the duo offered up a seamless mix of the contemporary and the classic; their juxtaposition of old and new continually keeping the crowd guessing as to where their set would take them next on their journey to the finish line. As expected though, the drums got hard and the sun came up. The two selectors complimented each other perfectly, having left our heads reverberating to the sound of their record collections long after we'd drifted off into the morning.
London finished? Not by a long shot.