Monday, February 18, 2008

Allez Allez: Allez-y encore!

I wouldn’t have picked a cold night in New Cross among the students to be my best night out in years (I’m not quite old enough to be their father etc) but then picking implies prior arrangement and pre-ordained nights aren’t usually the best either.

The Allez Allez DJs have been nicely building up their reputation and their night at the refixed Amersham Arms has also been developing a following. The template is electro-disco-house and some outer, rockier movements at opportune times. We turned up early, meeting Rachel and her flatmate and it was filling it out nicely, so we grabbed a place and, for the non-narking dads, got drinking. Buoying up the old boys.

Saturday night’s star turn was Kompakt man Axel Willner aka The Field, who has been turning modern house heads. It’s like a clubby Ulrich Schnauss. People have called it shoegaze techno for the way he extends and repeats the usual house riffs into droney blankets of sound as opposed to the usually distinct musical passages of minimal techno. It wasn’t clear from my side of the floor whether the Swede was PA-ing off a PC or DJ-ing, but it didn’t really matter as this would be an auteur set anyway.

The first 15 minutes of his set he was trading on goodwill and the energy of the crowd. Thought vs Action revels in not-quite-built rhythms, and insubstantial iteration of Abba riffs and voices. Where before his set the crowd had got moving to tunes such as Laidback’s Don’t Ride the White Horse, Bumblebee Unltd’s Ladybug and a canny dub of Curtis’ Pusherman - direct expressions of musical devotion, no filter from inspiration to production to transmission, here it seems as though he was playing with a crowd now bent on partying, acknowledging the decades of dance history by putting distance between his musical sources. Haunted, post-modern house.

But eventually the filtered proggy twists, occasional acid lines and, yes, trance penchant make sense and hit home, giving the crowd further peaks. Over the Ice moods it out and Love vs Distance bangs harder than on the Kompakt version, the looped peaks and troughs coming and going to dizzying effect. Packed and perspiring, by now the security have given up keeping the crowd off the stage and up there it’s a joyous mass. I remember the guy who looked like a 70s Brooklyn Jewish wide guy and someone who had taken his crappy 80s Foster-type jumper off leading the crowd. Many others too. Willner finished around half one, and the crowd were well up for seeing the 90 minutes out.

They probably know because they keep getting told by NME and Time Out among other media, but the Goldsmith and other local students are dead lucky having nights like this on the doorstep. Hopefully, I’ll be popping down again soon.
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