A lost weekend of electronica in Manchester

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Features - Reviews

A Guy Called Gerald @ The Deaf Institute

On January 29th the Red Bull Music Academy touched down in Cottonopolis for a weekend of debauchery courtesy of some of electronic music's old school heroes and latter day legends. Naturally, we were on hand to take a closer look.

It's Friday night and we've just opened the doors back into a baking hot Deaf Institute to get our jack on to some Chicago classics following 20 minutes talking to a Lancashire born American about the pros and cons of trans-Atlantic techno. It's a conversation on a subject that hasn't been far from anyone's lips since this afternoon's production workshops in the basement downstairs- music.

After an evening lecture from Manchester pioneer A Guy Called Gerald followed by similarly intimate insights into the life and times of US house originator Marshall Jefferson the lights were dimmed and the tunes turned up. Whilst the latter did exactly what he does best- throwing tracks such as his anthemic 'Move Your Body' at the receptive crowd- it was left to the former to finish things off with a live production set taking in everything from '21 Gun Badboy' era junglist grooves to dark bassline techno. As the rammed dancefloor became increasingly clouded with smoke and the temperature remained on its perpetual incline up the thermometer the only thing anyone was thinking focused on gratitude that the music was still being played, and gratitude that tomorrow would offer much of the same agenda- beats, talks and beers.



A short few winks later, or so it seemed, and we were stood in another bar queue, this time at Common, a venue in the ultra-trendy Northern Quarter district of the city, a few miles away from last night's location near the Universities. It's 2.30 on Saturday afternoon and it's already getting busy with an expectant crowd who have travelled from as far as Brighton to catch new school stalwarts Martyn and Kode 9 talk about tunes, production, their experiences and their lack of sleep.

After hearing the stories, and tracks including Rockers Hi Fi's UK bass classic 'Push Push' and a cheeky sample of a forthcoming release on Martyn's label 3024 it was time to put the couch away again and make room for an evening of music from artists such as the much hyped Mount Kimbie and eclectic glitcher dEbruit... just enough tastiness to whet the appetite for tonight's main even, a Hoya Hoya party at The Roadhouse with Hudson Mohawke, Kode 9 and Actress providing the boogie juice.

Just after 1am a bunch of people finally made it through The Roadhouse's militant door regime that declared one-in-one-out shortly after 11, despite the venue downstairs being remarkably roomy considering the queue on the street stretched round the corner. Still, inefficient entry for most to one side, the night did not disappoint once it worked out which direction it was heading in.

After a rather disjointed Actress, melding together distorted pop, bleep hop and garage-house in the type of way that can easily confuse a traditionalist's feet, flavour of last year Hudson Mohawke got on to rapturous applause, keeping an addictive groove going constructed from four-four rhythms, half-breaks and odd-steppa's delights.  Before long it was over to Hyperdub boss Kode 9 to drive things home with his techno-tinged dubstep for adults providing enough intelligent hard fast noise to satisfy bassline junkies and futurists alike.

Approaching Piccadilly Gardens- Manchester's main bus and tram terminus- some hours later and several things become clear. It would be hard to conceive of a more enjoyable weekend in January, with the guests ensuring all ages and tastes were catered for. It's snowing, for the tenth time this month, and we're sweaty and tired after nearly 48 hours on the go. But, most importantly, we're already waiting in anticipation for next year.