If you were looking for explosive, innovative and all-round grooving modern music at the Warehouse Project this Saturday then you shouldn’t have been disappointed. The next generation of house artists has well and truly arrived and, with bass music making its way increasingly into the charts, tonight was a nice reminder that instrumental house could still get the electronic aficionados appreciating and the crowds jumping.
Tonight was also the last big night of Manchester University’s Welcome Week and it was perhaps no coincidence that we were looking at an audience with a slightly higher average age who were appreciative music without the heavy bassline or 140bpm speed. Maya Jane Coles is an excellent example of the new generation of house; a set full of synth riffs and vocal samples repeating into infinity and a simple but unrelenting, edgy and unnerving snare track. Her four 2011 EPs (Full Swing, Beat Faster, Focus Now and Cool Down) have fused traditional house influences with a deeper sound and have avoided the minimalism which can often turn newcomers off in the wrong environment. Tonight it is the Burial-esque drum tracks, most evident on recent single ‘Beat Faster’, which get the crowd going and refresh what could be a tired sound with a suitably invigorating rhythm.
Following Coles were the big names of techno. Whilst the names Seth Troxler and Marco Carola may seem to belong to another age, there was no doubting their relevance tonight with two superstar DJ sets exhibiting the best of old influences. Making full use of the huge soundsystem at Store Street, VisionQuest (AKA Seth Troxler, Lee Curtiss, Ryan Crosson and Shaun Reeves) drew in the crowd with a mind-blowing three hour set showcasing the best of their individual releases, music from the VisionQuest label and new material. Tracks like Troxler’s ‘Panic, Stop. Repeat!’ have restored something of a visceral sound to techno and have avoided a clinical, cold sound by restoring bass and hi-hats to their rightful place and giving the dancing crowd a selection of syncopated rhythms to work with. You don’t often get much pushing and shoving at house nights but there was plenty of enthusiasm from fans to create a raucous atmosphere and get the party going. Carola followed the VisionQuest in a similar ilk with more samba like beats and percussion and big synth lines. It takes a good DJ to work real trancey sounds into a track and make it feel innovative but Carola has that in bucketloads with tracks like ‘Bloody Cash’ creating euphoria right to the back of the main room and keeping the night alive until closing time at 5:30am.
If you’re still interested in the new generation however, you were in Room 2 towards the end of the night. Whilst Kieran Hebden’s (AKA Four Tet) DJ set lacked the impact of the Room 1 headliners, Julio Bashmore brought plenty to the stage as the night drew to a close. With his recent Radio 1 Essential Mix drawing praise from all corners, this was an opportunity for a rising DJ to really make his mark and he doubtlessly did that in the cramped back room as he kept the mass of bodies shaking and swaying until dawn. Whilst ‘Battle For Middle You’ has been almost the signature tune of 2011 and a firm fan favourite, the Bristolian’s high energy sets and remixes (for Mosca, Zero 7 and Buraka Som Sistema) have put him right at the forefront of a new gang showing that house music can still keep a party going all night.