03 Sep Our Highlights of Dekmantel 2017
Words by Blake Creighton // Photos by Yannick Van De Wijngaert
Dekmantel brings together an impeccable lineup, incredible organisation, lush settings, solid sound systems and such a welcoming atmosphere that it is truly a festival that accommodates for a very special time. It also provides a platform for their affiliated and booked artists to test themselves as performers, musicians, DJs, producers and the like. It is a festival that is truly a haven for disco, house, techno, electro, acid breakbeat lovers.
With a significant portion of the world’s top and upcoming DJs, producers and artist all in the one vicinity, the standard of music across the three days was unbelievable. Set after set, the stages were heaving with crowds. Even between sets, the artists themselves could be seen enjoying each other’s craft – dancing and joining in as their peers performed for the crowds.
It was truly a three-day-extravaganza, with so much to be said about every aspect that brought together the pure enjoyment experience. As I spent my time there, I decided to note down my top tracks and sets so I could share them with everyone back home. This is my way of bringing everyone closer to the experience I had, to be right in the thick of it.
Calmly taking over from Nina Kraviz, Phoung-Dan dipped into an intrinsic variety of slow jams that entwined into acidic breaks, wonky basslines and humbling movements of abstract sounds. His bubbly stage presence and calm approach on the decks allowed for him to dip and dive through a range of atmospheres that would test and be well received by the many who joined in on his sublime selections.
Having seen Rodhad a couple of times before, I had a feeling that this set was to be one of a kind. The essence of his flow came down to his unique reading of the crowd, feeling their psychedelic energy and perusing abstract sounds. The arrangements slowly built to unremarkable drops that flowed from the speakers in odd yet welcoming time signatures.
Just before handing over the speakers to Juju Jordash, Joey Anderson slowly mixed in classic track Trans Europe Express‘ from Kraftwerk, which fit incredibly well with Juju Jordash’s sound, serving to both signal to and toy around with the pair before they begun curating their incredible live set.
On three separate occasions, Inga Mauer entranced me through diverse selections and mixing. Piecing together a broad range of trippy tracks at the Red Light Radio stage early in the afternoon on Saturday to a slowly gathering crowd, the intimate setting and energy from Mauer created a fulfilling hour that set her up beautifully for her set at The Selectors.
Mauer’s Selectors set, of which I only caught thirty minutes due to clashes, moved through acid and bass-heavy techno, and was rounded off with a fun stage presence as she kissed ice cubes and threw them to the crowd.
The third and final time that I caught Mauer was at Radion on Monday morning. Walking into the main room as she blasted a post-punk/metal track that was slowly blended into heaving techno, her efforts fell on deaf ears as the babbling crowd were still heavily intoxicated from the day. Despite the lack of attention, Mauer lay down a range of melodic, acidic, entrancing yet heavy tracks till it was Objekt‘s time to take a hold of the decks.
Donato Dozzy & Peter Van Hoesen (hybrid)
Five hours and two geniuses of the minimal/techno/acid scene, who on a number of special occasions have been paired together to enlighten everyone; this time it was in compounds of Dekmantel’s UFO tent. Working together on an almost telepathic level, Van Housen and Dozzy moved through heaving rhythms, structured to slowly build and drop into bending synth, captivating acid, and booming bass lines as rolling percussion swiftly manoeuvred the dance floor.
I partook in the journey for four and half hours of the five and came out of the tent completely mesmerised by what I had witnessed. An unforgettable set that I wish every Dozzy/Van Housen fan gets to experience at least once in their lifetime.
As I was sitting, collecting myself after being blown away by Peter Van Housen and Donato Dozzy’s set, a strong gust of wind brought across a short but intense downpour across the festival site. As many scattered under cover and to the bar to collect their free poncho, I proceeded to be mystified by Jon Hopkins at the back of the Main Stage in the rain as he dropped Daniel Avery‘s ‘Drone Logic‘. Hopkins entranced all that took cover, as a number of people around the edges of the covered area embraced harsh downpour.
It was as if the woodland settings of The Selectors stage was Vladimir’s home, with the festival just so happening to be on his doorstep, as he quietly wandered from his cabin out back to close out Saturday evening. Playing warm natural soundscapes with groovy soulful melodies and baselines, Vladamir slowly built his set from natural instrumentals into reformed electronics that held varied structures and crossed genres; consistently creating a bubbly and heartfelt atmosphere within each mix.
After catching the beginning of Illum Sphere’s set, I came back into the Greenhouse to the sounds of this masterpiece that stunningly drifted and built into the next track, creating a sense of suspense as the crowd waited for the anticipated drop.
The UFO tent hosted throughout the weekend some of the world’s top techno affiliated artists, and Karenn (Blawan and Periah) for an hour took a hold of everyone’s mind, body and soul. Searching deep into some of the more obscure and hard-hitting sounds, implementing them through energetic structures, they unleashed an intelligent, vibrant and yet savage live set.
Playing a 4-5:30 pm slot, Willikens brought animated and bombastic sounds to the bustling and lush settings as the sun shined through the windowed walls of The Greenhouse. Bursting with energy and a clear vision of what she wanted to explore, Willikens instantly fixed everyone’s hangovers and depleted energy reserves from the day/night before, restoring each and every soul through charismatic and genre bending electronics.
Orpheu The Wizard
At the end of any festival, everyone scampers to find the perfect finale and as I got a little underwhelmed by the crowds reaction to Objekt & Call Super‘s eclectic set, I set off to find a vibing closing set which so happened to be at the smallest stage of Dekmantel, The Red Light Radio stage.
Playing psychedelic and charismatic house tunes to what would have been 100+ people, Orpheu’s selection built for a grand finale and within each mix had everyone busting out their last moves of the weekend in style.
A last special moment was at Radion in the early hours of the morning. After the crowd had dispersed and the loyal music lovers were the only ones left, Objekt dropped a tribal percussion-based gem, Lena Willikens‘ remix, and this brought a heaving atmosphere back into the room.