Situated just a few kilometres north of Ararat is a large volcanic crater some kilometre wide. Aside from a small lake and a vineyard up the top (shoutout to Kulkurt Volcanic Shiraz for making a delicious drop) – this spot might not be too much to write home about. However in recent years, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Hopkins Creek team, they have managed to put this spot on the map. More so than just a festival, Hopkins has gone some lengths to foster a genuine atmosphere and a music-loving community. Having come some way from its first incarnation, it is very refreshing to see how a music festival can progress in size from a single stage and a selection of (excellent) local acts, to the full-blown festival it is now with a bevy of international acts.
With all the new faces on the lineup at Hopkins, it was nice to see some familiar ones like Sunnyside. Kicking things off on Friday afternoon, the sextet got people dancing with some uptempo funk brimming with energy.
Part of the Hopkins Crew, Ryan Berkeley has been making some waves with his live sets lately. Working his way through dubbier sounds to more pumping techno, Ryan worked his way over an impressive set of machinery, backed up at times with the sultry sounds of Sunnyside member Archie on saxophone.
Another standout live performance was that of Norachi, who probably gets the gong for best on for Friday evening. With warm, aqueous sounds playing out for the start of his set, Norachi brought things deeper and darker as the night went on.
Onto Saturday morning and Adriana was kicking off proceedings, with plenty of tracks international in flavour and a lovely version of “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Takuya Kuroda and “Parachute” by Sylvia.
Later in the afternoon, the music died down for a Welcome to Country. Not something to risk overlooking in the festivities, it was a spot on idea to do it in the middle where people can take a moment to absorb and appreciate the information. Jidah Clark spoke to the festival goers about the origins of the land and how people used to hunt the eels in the area. Jidah also talked about how Hopkins Creek team rallied around the community to save some local redwood trees slated for destruction. Building a festival through solidarity that really feels inclusive goes beyond more than pitching a stage and a bar once a year, it means getting behind the community in those instances they need it.
As the evening rolled in though, the skies opened up above the crater and started to wreak some havoc on the festival. As the main stage closed and the tent was taken down it felt like we were there more for a long time than a good time.
Despite the inclement weather, nothing could stop Millú delivering some heat from FFSOM’s “Resist the Beat”, recently released on Noise In My Head’s compilation of 3AM Spares and “Make Me” by Borai & Denham Audio.
The pelting rain and open main stage meant that Barry’s Bait Shop on the hill was the next destination. At this point, it’s worth noting the effort invested in putting together a second stage with its own identity. Clever bar set up and some nifty graphic design goes a very long way to making a stage feel just a bit more special. No one up at the bait stage was ever in doubt where they were or what kind of time they were here for…
Having made her first Australian appearance, the crowd was raring to go for Ciel‘s second performance after her brief stint on the main stage. Hemmed in from all sides of the bait shop, Ciel delivered blistering track after the next, highlights including her own track “Hundred Flowers Groove” on the EP of the same name.
Next to grace the stage was the no holds barred performance from Swede Samo DJ. Straddling the unlikely balance of harder techno and R&B samples, one of his closing tracks sounded like an entire Kelis track played over a relentless beat (please let me know if you find an ID). The set was unabated with tunes like “Da Rebels” by House Nations Under A Groove; a perfect slot for the earlier hours of the Sunday morning.
With the sun starting to peek through, Mitsuki was about to enter the booth with some 350 records in tow from Japan. Playing almost exclusively on vinyl, Mitsuki played to the rising sun an incredibly jazzy and uplifting house set throwing down plenty of Detroit classics. Some notable numbers would be everyone singing along to “Set It Out” by Omar-S, Mood II Swing‘s “All Night Long” and Dubtribe Sound System “Do It Now”. Even at 7.30AM Mitsuki obliged the crowd with an encore, putting on one last record and leaving the booth for a cigarette and a chat to those bedraggled and very muddy dancers who had stuck it out.
Having made a bit of noise on Butter Sessions this year, I was quite keen on seeing what Turner Street Sound had to offer – the side project of Dan White and Midnight Tenderness. Real smokey and shaking dub tracks, with jungle undertones throughout their DJ set shook the crater to its core. Playing rock steady tunes on Sunday morning the pair was one of the highlights of the festival.
Rounding out the afternoon was Love on the Rocks label head Paramida. The German DJ had an uncanny ability to read the festival and play the weird and wonderful tunes that make a set of Funktion-1’s sing. I didn’t get as many IDs as I would’ve liked to but I can tell you that Paramida’s edit of Run DMC vs. Jason Nevin’s “It’s Like That” was a set highlight. Fingers crossed the Hopkins team gets round to releasing the mix for our listening pleasure. With the tent taken down from Saturday’s storm, the lid was really off for all three hours of Paramida, before closing her set in a cacophony of creepy laughter samples.
Sydney’s Ben Fester was next up, keeping the energy going. Shoutouts go to dropping Ultra Nate’s “Free” to get everyone up and around each other, the disco goodness of Fern Kinney‘s “Love Me Tonight” and the breaksy singalong “It’s My Life (Max D Edit)” by Watt Noize.
For those still keen after the main stage closing, it was back up to Baz’s for the last dose of music for the festival (notwithstanding some scattered mind’s playing “Keep The Fire Burning” on a muddy UE Boom). The level Hopkins crew reached last year was hard to top but the DJs gave it their best shot with some time honed classics.
All in all, you have to admire the ability to nurture an idea of a few renegade parties, through to a festival of this size with only one serious hiccup. For all the natural beauty of the crater and investment in the local community, the location was an issue for the festival. The storm well and truly flattened tents, gazebos and stages and sent a few punters home early – something that is very hard to mitigate. Putting that aside, Hopkins is a festival truly deserving of all the love that the festival goers have for it.
Relatively unknown producer Tuscan Ruins launched their first EP ‘Miel‘ on cassette tape last Thursday. With previous work under the name Runsthevoodoodown via Potatoheadz, ‘Miel’ brings an evolution to the Melbourne producer’s sound.The hangovers of their previous work remain – crunchy sounds and a brooding aesthetic – but there is more of a narrative to the most recent release.
Listening to ‘Alone at the Tyrrenhian‘ brings to the forefront of your mind the works of Aphex Twin, especially their ‘Selected Ambient Works Volume II‘. The pulsing rhythm of ‘The Windswept Harbour, Her Curtained Navel‘ punches through the milieu of the other more atmospheric tracks, gravitating towards a more traditional techno sound.
The tape launch at Skydiver Record Store in Collingwood saw a handful of people and some friendly dogs down for a few cases of budget beer (Clue: the name of the lager rhymes with “spun”). Given the meteoric rise of some of Melbourne’s lo-fi artists (such as Rudolf C, Hymns, Shedbug) Tuscan Springs is one to watch.
Ahead of the third instalment of the ever-growing Hopkins Creek, we decided to give you a run-down of what is fast becoming one of Victoria’s premier festivals.
Hopkins has stepped up its international lineup exponentially, from two international acts in its 2017 edition to seven in 2018. With humble beginnings in a few recreant bush parties with a home built sound system, seeing a homegrown festival grow in size stirs a little pride in your dedicated punter.
Highlights from previous years would definitely include Sleep D’s hybrid set of 2016, unleashing tracks like ‘Ground Loop‘ by Atom™ in the early hours of the crater, as well as the Hopkins Creek DJs themselves playing a completely stacked crowd-pleaser set to close off 2017.
A stalwart of the Discwoman roster, Cindy Li honed her eclectic taste on college radio. Ciel, as she is known as, is a multi-talented DJ, producer, presenter and party-thrower, as well as being a vocal advocate for female-identifying talent in the electronic music sphere. Ciel’s release on Shanti Celeste’s Peach Discs last year straddles a perfect balance between electro sounds and dreamy synths. This latest release has proven to be hugely listenable, making Ciel one to watch.
Local in origin and international in flavour, Fantastic Man is an Australian DJ and producer who plays all around the world. Holding numerous titles from Mic Newman, Mind Lotion, and P.M.T.C, Fantastic Man has taste and talent in spades – just check his Sugar Mountain set if you need any reassurance.
Swedish artist Samo Forsberg aka Samo DJ has made a splash on labels including Trilogy Tapes, L.I.E.S., Born Free, and Public Possession. With a left-of-centre sound that’s equal parts demanding and playful, Samo is sure to take the crowd for a ride.
Garnering quite the name for herself with a key performance at Freedom Time, Wax O’ Paradiso and Inner Varnika, Millú has shown an impressive level of versatility. Her latest Melbourne Deepcast is a testament to that, playing deeper tracks peppered with plenty of UK breaks.
One of the standout acts from last year’s Hopkins, Sunnyside’s infectious energy was the perfect balm for any hangover. In a line up heavy on DJs and producers, Sunnyside brings a ray of difference to the Hopkins Creek roster, a welcome wedge of jazzy goodness.
Grab your tickets here before they sell out for Hopkins Creek 2018 (Nov 30th – Dec 2nd)
Now into its second year, Hopkins Creek is homegrown and pleasantly authentic Australian festival that can boast not one but two international headliners. Set in an ominous volcanic crater just South of Ararat, Hopkins spawned from a series of wild renegade bush parties and some notable late nights in the Mercat. The festival, however, has crystallised into something just as authentic and far more polished.
Having attended the very first edition of Hopkins, the ethos of the festival is a simple one. Take a small but intimate crowd, strict attention to sound and let the natural surrounds do most of the legwork for atmosphere. However, with music festivals — as with anything — they can quickly become a victim of their own success. Hopefully, with its strictly limited capacity and a strong focus on creating a welcoming and diverse atmosphere, Hopkins can back it up again this year.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the line-up, namely Ripe’s top five picks for the weekend. It would be remiss to leave out the two international headliners, so we’ll get the ball rolling with those first.
Mount Liberation Unlimited
Hailing from Stockholm, this duo has expressed a profound love for Australia after their debut performance at Meredith Music Festival last year. Performing live, these two are known for performing huge tracks that are instant earworms. Wrap your ears around “Double Dance Lover” for some chipmunk-vocal goodness if you want to get a feel for Mount Lib.
Brian Not Brian
Another international, back for their second dose of Australia, Brian made his debut at Inner Varnika two years ago. A selector’s selector, Brian finds himself neck deep in dusty collections of rare records and loves to share his archives. One half of Going Good Records, Brian brings an eclectic sensibility to the star-studded line-up.
Melbourne stalwart Pjenne (pronounced like the pasta, I believe) has been making quite a name for herself with a firm handle on all things disco, funk and soul. Not to discount her rarer cuts, but Pjenne certainly knows how to steer a disco-minded dancefloor. Often headlining alongside Melbourne’s favourite parties like Daydreams, Wax ‘O and Lucid, keep your ears peeled for Pjenne.
I want to say Toni Yotzi is one DJ to watch on the line-up, but it’s probably fair to say she has already established herself with some hugely diverse sets around Melbourne. This is my pick of the locals from Inner Varnika for blending huge grime tracks with noise and punk and electro — all for good measures.
With a mixed bag like no one else, Yotzi has the elasticity to stretch between all manner of genres and one to catch if you like being kept on your toes
Don’t let the name fool you, Sunnyside isn’t the name of a money-grabbing retirement home — it belongs to Camperdown natives who like to throw down.
Sunnyside brings a refreshing twist of jazzy live music to a line-up heavily populated with electronic artists. If you ever had any doubts that the clarinet was out of fashion, give Sunny a whirl. The perfect soundtrack to an ice-cold tin on the hill, check them out closing off the Sunday afternoon before Pjenne and Brian Not Brian.
Catch Loure at Hopkins Creek, and in the mean time you can check out his recent Ripe Guest Mix.
The lineup for the inaugural Pitch Music and Arts Festival could easily be mistaken for a Dekmantel or Melt lineup, considering the huge international acts featured. Instead us lucky ducks in Australia get to see this star-studded lineup on home soil, with more than a few local favourites added in via their second announcement.
We could ramble on hyperbolically here for awhile, especially considering some members of our team thought the lineup had to be a fake when it first crossed our desks, but we’d rather let the names do the talking. These are our top five picks to get excited for before the 10th – 13th of March.
First on the list, and admittedly a strong personal favourite, is Donato Dozzy. An artist who shows a ridiculous devotion to his craft, his sonic excursions dive into all manner of ambient, IDM and techno. A staple at festivals like Labyrinth, and with releases across labels like Spazio Disponibile, Stroboscopic Artefacts, and even his own Dozzy Records, it’s good to have the seasoned operator back in Australia.
Taking his first excursion from the Netherlands to Australia is Fatima Yamaha. The originator of the earworm ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ with that Lost In Translation sample, the skillful keyboardist has a whole catalogue of tracks you can dive into. With a fresh EP featuring the already celebrated track ‘Araya’ due out just before his Pitch appearance, this is a live set not to miss.
Not too much is known about the man himself John Talabot, but his releases say more than enough. The hugely successful album ƒIN saw him rise to fame and his mixes have cemented him as one of the most revered selectors. With another release, The Night Land, due out under the Talaboman alias the week before Pitch starts, this will definitely be one of the sets to watch (especially considering Axel Bowman, the other half of Talaboman is on the bill).
The Field is another live act worth noting, the sample-heavy and immersive tracks from the Swedish producer having carved out their own niche. Something a bit left of centre in the pumping lineup, The Field draws upon drone and punk influences to create a unique sound.
Celebrated noisician Paula Temple‘s sets are not for the faint of heart. Pack a set of ear plugs for her set, as her sound is uncompromising and yes, very loud. Known for an individual style of DJing that encompasses a strong live element in her use of Ableton, Paula’s performances please chin strokers and dancers alike.
… Yes, we know we said top five, but we can’t go without mentioning CC:DISCO!. She is one of the hardest working individuals around Melbourne right now, and one who is certainly familiar with playing amongst big-name internationals. CC will be sure to bring the heat with whatever disco numbers she decides to pull from her bag on the day, and we cannot wait.
Images via Dekmantel
Pop the word Dekmantel into Google Translate and you’ll see the word translates into “cloak” or “hidden”. And yet, looking at the star-studded lineup for Dekmantel Festival 2016, there was nothing remotely clandestine about it. In fact, all three-day tickets to the festival sold out. Somehow Dekmantel Festival, now in its fourth year, retains the feel of being a hidden gem amongst the beautiful Amsterdam Bos. As I approached the festival, there was something magical about cycling through the rich greenery, finishing off my last can of Grolsch to the dull thump of Funktion-Ones in the distance.
Day 1 – Friday
UFO stage was my first port of call, a hot and sweaty place in the early afternoon. Helena Hauff’s relentless style complemented DJ Stingray’s breakbeat and trancey vibes. The two went record for record with immaculate mixing. It was maybe a little too much for the afternoon, and some breathing space afterwards was essential. After enjoying a cheeky spritz on the lush grounds, I made my way to the Selector’s Stage where Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman were soon to kick off their monster six hour set.
The crowd was already getting into it late afternoon, the loud Aussie drawl audible mixed in with strains of the local Dutch and hundreds of other accents. The air was heavy, a mix of smoke machines and whatever else Amsterdam had to offer. “Mr. Follow Follow” by Fela Kuti emanated through the trees, and set the scene for a nice slow groove from Theo and Marcellus.
The day prior Marcellus Pittman had delivered a talk as part of the Dekmantel opening series where he told the audience that you’ve got to let a song play out to its “orgasm”. That’s exactly what Theo and Marcellus were doing – teasing each song out to the end, not focusing on slick transitions. Maybe a cheeky high pass filter here and there, but for the most part the two looked liked they were having fun, spinning a few records at home.
It wasn’t long before I found myself right back in the sweaty throng of the UFO stage. Word to the wise, don’t let Dekmantel’s stellar lineup get the best of you. If you try to see everyone on your wish list, you’ll spend more time between stages than you will experiencing any one artist. With that in mind I resolved to spend the entirety of the hour at UFO and see Surgeon’s full live set, earplugs at the ready.
While the likeness of his moniker Surgeon to his actual performances has been made hundreds of times, it is striking to see live. Perched atop the stage on his modular set up, it’s hard to translate the subtlety with which he operated. Each element of his performance was slowly brought forward, little high hats creeping around swelling ethereal pads. The pounding bassline was a backdrop for each new patch he introduced. After flitting around between stages the whole day I’m glad I stayed managed to stay in the one spot.
There was already a formidable crowd assembling at main stage. It was for one of the biggest names on the bill, none other than The Wiz himself – Jeff Mills.
Mills consistently administers his own brand of mind-blowing techno and busy mixing. The occasional choppiness of his set only served to highlight the sheer volume of work that Mills was doing behind the stage. Delivering some classics of his own like ‘Life Cycle’, the concentric squares of the Dekmantel logo silhouetted Mills in a spectacular panorama.
Post Mills is always a tough comedown, so luckily the six hour escapade of Theo and Marcellus was still going strong. Belting out more floor fillers like ERB’s ‘The Weekend’, the duo eventually had to wind things up. In a pretty anticlimactic fashion the two closed, had a dig through their records, then simply declared “goodnight!” to the crowd. In all fairness, for two Detroit legends to pull out the big guns you would need pretty rowdy calls for an encore.
Day 2 – Saturday
Everyone was looking surprisingly fresh come day two, possibly because the festival had closed at 11pm the night before. First order of the day was to see Midland’s set on the main stage. There were plenty of great tracks delivered, the wobbly ‘Bass Mood’ by Oracy, the afrobeat funkiness of one of Mim Suleiman‘s tunes, and the unbeatable house classic of Omar S’s ‘Psychotic Photosynthesis’. Midland’s own ‘Final Credit‘, dubbed by many as the song of the summer, was a true hands in the air moment. With the sun shining and the delightful Netherlands breeze keeping the crowd cool, it was the definite peak of Midland’s set.
Back on the homely turf of Selector’s stage, the duos of Pender Street Steppers and Beautiful Swimmers were going to head to head and having a great time doing it. Possibly the best back to back pairing in my books, you would be hard pressed to find a group of more eclectic selectors. No surprises that I didn’t know many of the tracks they were playing, but that never gets in the way of a good boogie.
There was a bit of afro-beat, there was italo-disco (I think Pineapples ‘Come On Closer’ was in there somewhere), there was thumping house and even a little garage in the form of RIP Production’s ‘Pick Me Up’. I can think of few other DJs who skim through so many genres as fluently, and with such ease (Sex Tags might come to mind). The four looked liked they were having a blast, even picking through the records and fiddling with the reel to reel that was the backdrop of Selector’s Stage.
Saturday may have been Amsterdam Pride, but the enthusiastic crowd at Amsterdam Bos would have given the Canal Parade a run for their money. The vibe was palpable in the UFO. Nobu played Voices from the Lake‘s ‘Zulu Vortex’, which served as foreshadowing for Donato Dozzy‘s set later on. Streams of light lit up the ecstatic crowd, DJ Nobu furnishing the huge tent with uncompromising techno.
Back to Selector’s (by this point my favourite stage, with a solid dance floor and intimate setting), and Dozzy was up next. Donato Dozzy is one of those artists that no matter how many times you see him play, from the dusty outback of an Aussie doof to the eerie halls of Tresor, you’re simply not ready for what he does next.
Donato doesn’t cut an imposing figure, but look past those little spectacles and you have a DJ and a producer with a strong command of techno and ambient music. Working away on several CDJs and turntables with a cheeky Donato Jozzy in hand, he was meticulous in his mixing and track selection.
Day 3 – Sunday
Sunday arrived in the blink of an eye and arguably they saved the best for last. Having thoroughly memorised the final timetable, the main stage looked like the way to go with Palms Trax, Fatima Yamaha, DJ Koze and Dekmantel boiler room hero Motor City Drum Ensemble preforming in succession.
My only excursion from main’s wonderful panoramic visuals was to pop into UFO to see Voiski live. The industrious slow builds of Voiski and his off kilter 3/4 and 6/8 beats were bass heavy with only the occasional recess. Voiski, with a wry smile, even played one of his latest off Dekmantel sub-label UFO – ‘Come back! Nothing is Forgiven’.
From 5pm – 11pm I was resolute in keeping a spot on main stage. Palms Trax played the afternoon slot with a set that was fairly lukewarm, until he delivered the chintzy classic ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ by Stardust. Nothing like a bit of cheese to get the crowd going. After that it was all systems go with Fela Kuti’s ‘No Possible’ played for its full eight glorious minutes.
Dutch producer Fatima Yamaha followed on with one of his infamous live sets. Leading with plenty of new material from his latest album like ‘Sooty Shearwater, King of Migration’, ‘Love Invaders’ and ‘Borderless II’, his glorious reverb-laden keys segued into older tracks like ‘Between Worlds’ and ‘Half Moon Rising’. I’m not going to try to convey what the moment was like when he dropped ‘What’s A Girl To Do‘, but suffice to say there were a lot of hugs.
DJ Koze brought in the evening, with rainbow visuals lighting up the stage. Koze played remix after remix, from the swinging bassline of Moderat’s ‘Bad Kingdom’, his soothing take on Mano Le Tough’s ‘Energy Flow’ and the singalong ‘Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)’ by Låpsley. The sunsets and the smoke machines clouded the sky, the perfect time of night for the crowd to start jumping up on stage. Even Koze seemed to enjoy it.
With Ben Klock and Marcel Dettman also playing the closing slot, I hoped that committing to Motor City Drum Ensemble was the right choice. Marcel Dettman at the Boiler Room didn’t really seem an option though. One of the festival’s biggest draw cards had become too popular. The aggressive jostling and number of people who were too drunk at Black Madonna and Mike Servito’s set meant that this Boiler Room had lost its sheen. That said, you can hardly blame a stage for being too popular.
Dekmantel is a festival that covers many genres, everything from techno, disco, afro-beat, house, dub and many more. In those two hours in his closing set, MCDE managed to cover all of them. Highlights would have to include the familiar favourite, Loose Joints ‘Is It All Over My Face’ and the sublime Andrés’s ‘New For U’. A tasty reggae track by Nina Decosta, ‘Don’t Want To Lose You’, slowed things down before the closing moments, where MCDE played ‘You Can’t Hide From Yourself’ by Teddy Pendergrass. Perhaps my only criticism of the phenomenal set was that it was an awfully familiar track to finish with, although arguably playing the classics we know and love is MCDE’s forte.
I would have to say a huge draw point for Dekmantel for me is the loyalty lineup. While the bill each year is just as exciting and diverse within the field of electronic music as you could possibly hope for, there are plenty of names that have been booked before. Big ones like Jeff Mills (having closed main stage for his third time so far), Tom Trago and Dixon are to be expected, but lesser known acts like Beautiful Swimmers also double up. If Dekmantel’s atmosphere, lineup and delivery is good enough to keep the same artists coming back each year, it’s safe to say they’ve got their audience just as hooked.
Less than a week out from Dekmantel Music Festival and excitement is beginning to build around one of the biggest festivals that European summer has to offer.
Dekmantel has recently published a video about the well renowned Red Light Radio. If you didn’t know already Red Light Radio is a little institution located in – well you guessed it – the red light district of Amsterdam. Both record store and radio show are nestled amongst the almost iconic window fronts of the brothels. Their radio show has international acclaim, presenting an eclectic slice of the musical world. As a proud platform of artists and not necessarily the “big names”, Red Light has been around for some six years.
As a record store as well, Red Light Radio works to foster the growing vinyl culture, the founders talking about digging trips across Germany from hostel to hostel when they were younger. Red Light Radio will be leaving their cosy spot amongst the shopfront windows to broadcast live at Dekmantel Festival, so make sure you check them out.
Check out our picks for Dekmantel 2016 here – Ripe’s Guide to Dekmantel 2016.
There are a slew of festivals come summertime in Europe that seem to attract both locals and internationals like moths to a flame. Germany can claim Melt!, Croatia proudly sports Dimensions, and the Netherlands has none other than Dekmantel Festival to call its own. Given its international run this year, it’s quite clear that the name Dekmantel – whether affixed to a festival, record label, or Dekmantel Soundsystem – holds a lot of prestige. So, leading up to the festivals 2016 incarnation, we’ve decided to give you our day-by-day guide to Dekmantel Festival 2016.
Day One – Thursday
Our pick for the opening segment is a bit of a toughie, so we have jointly awarded James Holden and Tony Allen our number one picks. While on paper the experimental, almost drone-like nature of James Holden’s deafening live show (see our review for his show in Melbourne here) could hardly be compared to the rock-steady and silky smooth work of Tony Allen, both acts are performing live with their respective bands. For James Holden this should hopefully mean the frenetic yet laser-precise drum work of Tom Page will be on display, potentially stealing the spotlight from Holden’s modular synth. But – like the unpredictable nature of the modular synth itself – who knows what to expect? Allen, the mastermind behind tracks like ‘When One Door Closes’, will even things out with easier-on-the-ears afrobeat.
Day Two – Friday
Come Friday and Dekmantel is really into the swing of things, so you’re faced with a bevy of choices in the daytime. Big names like Jeff Mills, Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman dominate the lineup as artists that have been around for decades, but our number one would be Ben UFO going back-to-back with Joy Orbison. One of the few DJs who keeps it strictly on the ones and twos rather than including any production, Ben UFO is known for delivering tracks you wouldn’t hear anywhere else. Both a DJ and a producer, Joy Orbison is a perfect paragon for the British electronic music scene, combining elements of house and dubstep with hints of UK garage in a delightfully warm combination (check ‘Hyph Mngo’ if you need any further reassurance.)
Day Three – Saturday
Another star-studded day as per expectations. Eschewing the more popular selectors like Dixon and Tale of Us, we picked two artists who are on the darker end of the spectrum. Those two would be Donato Dozzy and Abdullah Rashim. Whilst Donato Scaramuzzi might be a quiet, bespectacled man and Abdullah Rashim a younger renegade with an affinity for wielding spray paint, both artists are able to command an atmosphere like no other. Their expansive sets dive into unforgiving techno that melds the emotional command of ambient music with the relentless drive of a 4/4 rhythm. While the two hail from Italy and Sweden respectively, their music sounds like nothing of this earth.
Day Four – Sunday
Wrapping up proceedings, our final day includes some old favourites from previous Dekmantel line ups. Motor City Drum Ensemble‘s set from 2014 is an instant classic, and Fatima Yahama‘s live performance last year cemented the popularity of ‘What’s A Girl To Do‘ once and for all after some years. However, we are going to go ahead and pick our top three for the Sunday, going for a bit of variety.
Anyone who considers themselves a proper dubstep head would surely have a copy of ‘Anti War Dub’ floating around their collection. The collaborative effort from Mala and Coki produces the proper stuff, drawing upon dub origins with serious basslines without the needless attention-seeking of ‘the drop’. Artists who don’t receive half the attention they deserve outside of the UK, these two are the ones to break up the house and techno that dominates the lineup.
With some very impressive work out on the L.I.E.S. label, Voiski‘s productions have serious legs. With heavy build ups, you can’t help but feel tracks like ‘Wax Fashion’ or ‘Ad Infinitum’ sweep you up in their long waves of sound – and his live set is sure to do the same.
Little needs to be said about this artist from Germany. Amygdala is one of the most formative albums of electronic music, his DJ Kicks mix is nothing short of sublime, and the catalogue of remixes DJ Koze provides is rich with instant classics. What to expect out of the DJ/Producer who has been around for some decades now? Eclectic tracks and wacky samples, if previous mixes are anything to go off.
So if you’re heading down to one of the most thoughtfully-curated festivals in the world, be sure to check out our picks – although you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time whomever you see.
Inner Varnika. Where to begin on this one? Having had the pleasure of making my Inner Varnika debut last year, I was quite nervous about writing this one up. So many fond memories… locals Sleep D playing under a blood red moon, Sex Tags putting on the wildest encore on Easter Sunday. Then of course how could you forget Donato Dozzy? Watching him sip a cup of tea whilst tearing the dusty earth apart with his pounding techno amongst the fog… Don’t worry though, I can assure you that, somehow, this year was even better.
Now if you travel about 20 kilometres north of Camperdown, you will find one of Australia’s largest collections of dust in one area. Also amongst the gristly lamb bones and thistles, you’ll find Inner Varnika. It’s a simple setup: one stage, a couple of food trucks and some camping. However, this is a festival that subscribes to the ethos of quality, not quantity. The huge stack of Funktion-Ones do their job splendidly, the sound carrying perfectly over the rolling hills, and the lineup is simply one of the most carefully-curated selections in our hemisphere.
Having learnt my lesson from last year, all supplies were carried on wheels from the cars to the campsite. Luckily, the setup of tents meant the trek wasn’t too far at all, and I was also happy to see plenty more facilities for water and toilets. Doing well so far, IV. After the obligatory hour or so of talking smack with a few Melbourne Bitters, it was time to actually check out a few of the acts. Apologies to Faboo and Crown Ruler, but it was Wax O’ Paradiso member Edd Fisher who was one of the first acts I managed to see.
What better way to enter the dance floor, than to Carmen’s ‘Throw Down’ – top marks to Edd Fisher. As the set went on, it progressed more from disco to harder house rhythms, before eventually wrapping things up with some DJ Sotofett. Noise In My Head played afterwards with some very eclectic selections (maybe a bit too out there for me, as I couldn’t manage to get many track IDs, although some New Order was definitely featured).
HTRK were the first live act to play, the Melbourne group channelling a dark, intense energy. The slower, bass-heavy beats pushed the sound system substantially, while the haunting vocals of Joannine Standish floated out across the empty landscape. A good time slot for the experimental group to play, HTRK supplied a welcome break from the DJs.
After a quick break to the campsite to ensure everyone was balancing style and comfort in matching tracksuits, it was just a short walk back through the glowing light installations to the stage. As hndsm. wrapped up his set, an unfamiliar figure graced the stage. Sporting an Inner Varnika bomber jacket, maybe he was part of the the festival team?
Ahh, nope. From the incredible sounds coming from the speakers and the hands deftly working on hardware behind the wooden screen, it was obvious it was Vril playing live for the first time ever in our fair country. Having heard so much of his music without being able to put a face to the name, it was certainly surreal to see the elusive producer in the flesh. I’m going to preserve some of his mystery and simply say that the Giegling-affiliated artist looked surprisingly normal. The music, however, was anything but. Vril is notorious for building his sets from unreleased material, so the thundering dub techno emanating from the Funktion-Ones sounded like nothing from this earth.
Trying to follow a name like Vril is certainly no easy task, but local Ricci proved he was more than able. Delivering a signature high-energy set, Ricci confidently fed us track after track despite records occasionally skipping – due mostly to the fact that the air was about 90% dirt. Favourites would be E.R.P’s ‘Sensory Process (plant43 remix)’ and the over-the-top synth madness of Hard Corps ‘Porte Bonheur’.
Lee Gamble followed the high energy atmosphere with a live set that changed the dynamic up a bit. Working thoughtfully on his equipment, Gamble strung together a set that showed a great level of technical proficiency, but perhaps lacked an energy required for the closing set of Good Friday. Not to worry, as the second instalment in the form of his DJ set was coming the next day.
With a tent so mangled it was only functioning as a light gazebo, I was surprised to wake up feeling quite fresh. So without further ado and a coffee from Alley Tunes in hand, it was time to see the opening act Glyn Hill – one of the local favourites from last year as well. Hill demonstrated an vast knowledge of music, playing Omar Souleyman-sounding fervent rhythms. Michael Ozone also exhibited an eclectic taste following on from Glyn.
The first international, Mo Kolours beckoned everyone in closer for a hug amongst the dust as he kicked of his live set. His smooth, almost laissez-faire style was the perfect way to spend an afternoon on the hill. Throwing Shade played live and went straight into her DJ set, one of the most ridiculous performances I have seen in a long time.
In a weekend where you hear some of the more obscure tracks, Throwing Shade went the complete opposite and played every crowd-pleasing poppy track. It might not have been for everyone, but it was welcome change of pace. Hearing ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ into Rihanna, New Order, Hardrive and Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ in one consecutive dose is almost an overload of cheesy tunes, but it had everyone up and dancing and isn’t that what DJing is about?
With a heavy heart I saw that Brian Not Brian was unable to play the Saturday, rumours circulating about a particularly bad case of food poisoning. Not to worry, as there were still plenty of quality acts, such as resident expert on all things afrobeat, Manchild. Playing plenty of upbeat tracks to warm the audience on the overcast day, my favourite was from the Awesome Tapes of Africa label: ‘Daa Nyinaa’ by Ata Kak. Despite a complete lack of any knowledge of Ghanaian languages, I still tried to make this one a singalong much to the disappointment of everyone around me.
My local pick of the weekend, Moopie certainly brought the thunder. Stacked full of acid house and techno classics, the Melbourne DJ delivered gems like ‘The Trance’ by Joey Beltram, the ridiculous new-beat ‘Klangwerk’ by Klangwerk, and old favourites like ‘Lump’ by James Holden and ‘Decompression’ by Mathew Jonson. I’m sure Lee Gamble would have had a tough time deciding his favourite opener between Moopie and Ricci – I was very proud to see Melbourne represented by these two.
After Moopie though came the man Lee Gamble again, back for the most polarising set of the weekend. Playing a mixture of jungle and dubstep, it was a novel experience hearing these oft under-represented genres on Australian shores. Bordering on the ridiculous there were Scarface samples and Super Mario remixes. My favourite moments would certainly include the gun fingers and reassurance that “jungle is massive”. Whether or not anyone was being serious didn’t really matter; it was great seeing Lee pull back a track if he got enough encouragement to “rewwwwiiind selectaah”.
It’s now the last day of Inner Varnika and time for everyone to brush off their Sunday best; true to form, there were some of the ruder ensembles I’ve seen. Everything from ill-fitting three piece suits to hot pink numbers with matching luggage really did the Sunday theme justice. From a distance I just managed to catch the tail end of Albrecht La’Brooy’s live set, their improvised jams always delivering the perfect balance of dancey and ambient tunes.
Chicago legend Jamie 3:26 was the next selector, a reshuffle thanks to the fact that Brian Not Brian was back on the bill. Solid disco and house music was perfectly suited for everyone dancing around in the relative sunshine. Robert Hood classic ‘Never Grow Old’ (released under the Floorplan moniker) was followed perfectly by the summer classic ‘Hit It n Quit It’ by Cratebug and the man himself.
J’Nett (also rocking a suit, go girl) followed for two hours, continually building the atmosphere with my personal favourite, ‘Place Called Tarot’ by Tantra. Brian Not Brian too was now back to play and braving sickness. To be honest, with my phone dead, no Shazam, and a group of friends all dancing in matching suits as the sun set, it was a little difficult to keep up the notes. Take that as testament to the man’s talent at getting a crowd up and about.
Now for the final moments. Sex Tags would not be asked back for another year if they weren’t able to deliver some of the best feel-good sets. Last year’s impromptu encore that lasted almost two hours must’ve been factored into the set times, as the pair of DJ Sotofett and DJ Fett Burger were asked to play for a mammoth six hours until Inner Varnika’s close. So here it is.
‘Troglodytes’ by Julio Bashmore was played to supplement all your deep house needs. Lil Louis & The World’s ‘The Conversation’ may be played on an almost weekly basis, but that saxophone was there to give you a fill of housey-disco goodness. A minute-long interlude that featured the classic ramblings of that one guy a bit too gone in the smoker’s room had everyone standing around laughing, but also gave you a boogie break and broke things up a little. The sounds of ‘Sexy Boy (Cassius Remix)’ by Air brought a bit of sensuality to the stage, as people danced (naked) on top of the speakers. Like any good set there was balance; it wasn’t all feel good tracks, and the soulful tones of Angie Stone with ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ was one of the finer singalong moment at the end.
Ask any DJ what songs they would pick to end a six-hour-long journey and they would struggle to pick one that would work. Sex Tags had the perfect solution, an absolute classic that got played last year as well: ‘Sweet Harmony’ by The Beloved. The perfect song to tell friends and strangers alike just how much you love them, and Inner Varnika, and everyone. Or something along those lines.
So yes, that was IV 2016. If you’re ever looking for something more magical than a long weekend or a human bunny that delivers chocolate to your home, then I suggest making a little trip out of Melbourne next Easter. I’m counting down the days until next year Inner Varnika – see you then.
Sean La’Brooy and Alex Albrecht make up Albrecht La’Brooy. No prizes for guessing how they came up with the name. Certain medals are in order, however, for these two talented muscians who have been putting on some of Melbourne’s finest live electronic music, running the carefully-curated record label Analogue Attic Recordings. They’ve also put out an album or two – ‘Good Morning Passengers’ and ‘Edgewater Towers’.
Their first release ‘Good Morning Passengers’ is a journey. Rattling along the Belgrave line from the bustle of Flinders Street station all the way towards the peaceful ferns of the Dandenong Ranges, you can trace the narrative of Albrecht La’Brooy’s music quite clearly. Electronic music is often criticsed from an outsider’s perspectve as being unimaginative, repetitive, and lacking any deeper meaning. Burial was one of the first artists that proved me wrong in this regard, demonstrating that lyrics were by no means the only conduit for a musician’s narrative, and Albrecht La’Brooy are another set of artists that drive this point home. We spoke to them about their label, inspirations and why people might think that techno music is ‘boring’.
Sam Chesbrough: Now, the name Albrecht La’Brooy is quite straightforward. Can you explain maybe the name of your record label Analogue Attic Recordings?
Sean La’Brooy: We threw a couple of parties at a place on Gertrude St that had a little upstairs room and the name we came up with for it was ‘Analogue Attic’.
Analogue Attic Recording has a very distinctive aesthetic. You’ve got lots of film photography of local spots matched with a showcase of various Melbourne artists, so it seems you two are very dedicated to promoting Melbourne’s burgeoning music scene?
Alex Albrecht: We wanted to do an art and music combination, so we would have some of the photographers influence some of the music. We came up with a set of core values that we wanted to have with every release, that’s why the aesethetic is so strong. One of them was that we were only going to release Australian music.
Sean: We just thought we would focus on being ourselves and releasing music with people we have relationships with. Rather than ‘who’s the biggest name we can pull to sell records?’, let’s actually do something that involves us. The imagery we use comes from places that mean something to us rather than some trendy building in Berlin.
‘Good Morning Passengers’ centres around life on the Belgrave line. What draws you to the idea of a train line when it comes to making an album?
Sean: I was just thinking how different places that are so close to each other are. For example, you can work all day in Richmond and go home to Tecoma. We just liked the idea of exploring that difference.
Alex: I lived in Richmond at the time and my friend lived in Tecoma, and he was always telling me about the beautiful rainforests. We looked at the Belgrave line and it’s got Box Hill and its cultural diversity, and Cantebury which is another different suburban location. We just wanted to look at those four stops and take recordings from them all and use them as inspiration.
Any plans for taking Albrecht La’Brooy overseas?
Alex: Absolutely, we would love to do that, it just a matter of teeing it up. There are a few places that stock our records overseas and have been really supportive.
And the dream destination?
Sean: Japan, definitely.
Now you guys are heavily involved in Melbourne’s electronic music scene, what are your thoughts on current state of affairs and who should we keep an eye out for?
Sean: There’s always been people doing greating things in Melbourne, but it’s always going to be different here because you don’t have the same volume of artists and people who are really interested in that sort of music – you don’t have that same volume of population to begin with. I certainly think that there’s a lot of really creative, forward-thinking, world-class musicians. I saw Mosam Howieson play on the weekend and it was mind-blowing, one of the best sets I’ve seen. You’re often seeing sets that are that good by Cale Sexton, or Rory McPike aka Dan White, or Sleep D. Its an interesting thing because we are so isolated, it’s not an easy thing for someone in Europe to bring someone out from Australia.
Alex: We’ve also been into jazz for a really long time, so there’s that as an influence too. Which Way Music is doing some great stuff at the moment.
When it comes to an international level, which artists out there inspire you guys?
Sean: Johhny Nash I’ve been into a lot recently. A lot of the guys in Japan; Tominori Hosoya, Kuniyuki Takahashi and miniluv.
Alex: Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles. Everything from the ambient albums, to the experimental stuff, to the house music. All of it I just find amazing. There’s a deeper meaning, it’s very intellectualised, there’s a lot of meaning behind everything.
You guys mentioned the jazz label Which Way Music before and, as I understand it, you also have quite a strong classical background. How does this jazz influence play into your music?
Sean: People love to say that we have a classical background because it sounds very romantic, but the truth of it is I have a degree in jazz, I studied jazz for a number of years, and Alex always played a fair bit of jazz.
A publication who shall remain nameless recently put out an article on how live techno sets are boring. Now, having watched you guys play at Butter Sessions showcases, Daydreams, etc. I would disagree. What would you say to people out there who don’t ‘get’ live performance electronic music?
Sean: I think if people don’t like it that’s fine, they might be into other things. They might not have seen any good performances either, they might not know the difference between someone playing live and someone DJing – there is not a lot of transparency in electronic music. If you ask a random punter whats going on they probably won’t know. What they don’t realise is a lot of the records they are listening to when they are listening to a DJ are made of excerpts of different live sets.
How does your classical training factor into your music? When it comes to performing do you miss the unquantized nature of live instruments, or do you prefer the security of working with quantized, set rhythms with analogue synths.
Sean: I find it very similar, in that there is a lot of improvisation. We go into our performance with very little recorded; we basically just feel the vibe of the party and we just play from there.
What shows are coming up that you’re excited for?
Sean: Inner Varnika next weekend and Noise In My Head in April. We’re also planning a few more interesting gigs later on in the year, and they will probably be through Analogue Attic.
Catch Albrecht La’Brooy at Inner Varnika amongst a star-studded lineup featuring VRIL, Sex Tags, Jamie 3:26, Lee Gamble, Throwing Shade, Brian Not Brian, Mo Kolours and many, many more.