Review: Mission Techno

I talked a bit about Mission Techno in my article on the Techno scene in Germany but after last Friday, I realised no words can really do this event justice; you simple have to experience it for yourself! I was lucky enough to be invited along by MT resident, Don Basti, who picked me up from my hostel in Mannheim and together we drove to MS Connexion Complex, which is just the most remarkable venue. Located on an ancient factory site, it’s dark, eerie and industrial (just the way I like it) and houses four different rooms: Tanzsaal, where all the rougher styles of Techno could be heard, the Main Floor, which catered to Hard Techno and Hartekk fans, the “Classics” room, Stahlwerk, a new addition to the festival and finally Treibhaus, where the DJS mostly played Dark Techno.

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While Don Basti and fellow resident DJ Florian Peschel were setting things up, I explored the venue some more and assessed the line-up, so I could decide who to see play. It was a tough choice, as there were so many fantastic artists, but I decided to kick things off with Leon Glock, who had won the award, “Best Newcomer to Techno”, and who was playing in Tanzsaal. Despite the fact it was very early, several people were already on the dance floor, doing that wonderful German shuffle dance (I’ll never get tired of seeing that) and showing their appreciation for Leon. His set was the perfect start to the night, it was nicely dark and driving, but without being too full-on.

Up next in Tanzsaal was Unmensch, who I discovered recently and whose sets I’ve been listening to repeatedly on Soundcloud, as I think they’re brilliant, but seeing him live took my love of him to a whole new level – his was probably my favourite performance of the night. Not only was the music pounding, but Unmensch is one of these DJs who really knows how to interact with his audience, making him captivating to watch. The energy in the room during that set was electric, each and every person was giving it their all, which made the Berlin crowd look lazy! People in this part of Germany certainly know how to rave.

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I somehow managed to tear myself away from Tanzsaal half an hour before the end of Unmensch’s set, as I really wanted to see the legend that is Talla 2xlc. It was wonderfully refreshing to hear some old school Trance, especially when it’s being spun by such a prestigious DJ, something you don’t normally get the luxury of listening to at a Techno event. Talla treated us to classics such as Push’s Universal Nation, Seven Days and One Week by B.B.E and all-time favourite Zombie Nation, beginning with those famous words from the “We are the walking dead” speech. He then played a couple more recent tracks, including his own remix of Sandstorm and Vini Vici’s remix of Free Tibet, which topped the set off nicely. The vibe in that room was very different, as the average age was considerable higher (no great surprise really) and there was a mellower feel to it, but still plenty of energy. I enjoyed seeing colour and smiles on people’s faces too- something you don’t experience much on Techno nights!

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I then decided to check out Treibhaus, the smallest room, a kind of witchlike cave with sludge green wavy walls. We managed to catch the end of Don Basti’s first set of the night, a dark techno set that he playing on behalf of Benijo, who had unfortunately fallen ill. Then Seimen Dexter came on and tore those wavy walls down! The first twenty minutes of his set were heavy and fast-paced, and I wanted to stick around to see how it progressed, but I was also keen to see George Perry, so after a short while I returned to Tanszaal. The style of Techno George was playing was deep and full of feeling and, while it was very powerful, there were harmonious elements to it as well. He reminded me a bit of Dekai, one of my favourite DJs here in Berlin, who I’ve seen many times but who always manages to surprise me. Their music is somewhat ominous; it gives you the impression of being chased by a predator. I like it when Techno can evoke such feelings in me.

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Finally, I saw Stormtrooper and Sebastian Groth play back-to-back. Now these artists both have very different styles, with Sebastian being a Techno DJ and Stormtrooper more of a Hardcore guy, so I was interested to see how they’d make it work. Initially, Sebastian played softer and slower but he sped up towards the end, and Stormtrooper slowed down, causing their styles to merge – the outcome was surprisingly good! You can read more about both artists in the interview I carried out with them after their set. Sadly, I had to leave shortly after that to catch my train back to Berlin, but my event finder and partner in crime, Brige Greene, stayed until the end to see Florian Peschel play and reported that “He ended the party with a grand finish.”

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Overall, I can safely say that the organisers of Mission Techno really excelled themselves with this festival; the venue was second-to-none, there was such an eclectic line-up, with so many different styles of Techno (and Trance!) and the crowd was unbeatable. Can’t wait to return for the next event on May 13th. Mission Techno = accomplished!

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Transmission

Up until recently, I was a Transmission virgin; I had of course heard of the prestigious Trance event, but had never got around to attending it. However, this year I decided that had to change, particularly as it was the festival’s 10th anniversary and I’m now living in Berlin, which is a mere four hours from Prague by bus. I had been told by several different people what an incredible festival Transmission was, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how spectacular a show it would be. Upon entering the venue, I was blown away by the sheer enormity of it and instantly captivated by the dazzling lasers, which darted back and forth. As I made my way to the front, where giant LED screens loomed behind the DJ booth, I became anxious that there might not be enough room to dance, as the place was completely packed – Transmission 2016 had completely sold out. Fortunately though, there was ample space to flail my limbs, which I went on to do wholeheartedly for the next eight hours.

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Transmission 2016’s theme was ‘The Lost Oracle’

My dancing marathon began roughly halfway through MarLo’s set, kicking off with his brilliant remix of The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up. Wow! What a way to start. He went on to play a tune that I didn’t recognise, but loved instantly, and I went on to discover that it’s the new Scot Project track, W5 (Waiting For). After that, we were treated to Kyau & Albert’s latest release, Memory Lane, a lovely little progressive number. Then a cover of a song I never dreamed I’d hear on a Trance night got played: Imagine. This had everyone waving their lighters and phones in the air, while I just stood laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. I later found out that it’s MarLo’s own version and features the vocals of renowned Trance vocalist, Emma Hewitt. It went down a treat on the night, but my favourite moments were yet to come though, as I would rather be fist-pumping to a banging track than waving my lighter around to a slow one. Fortunately for me, the next series of tracks were indeed banging – MarLo played his own Join Us Now, a previous ASOT tune of the week, then I found myself jumping up and down and dancing with a bunch of mad Israelis to Orjan Nielsen’s Between the Rays (another MarLo remix), which was such a lot of fun and definitely the highlight of the set for me. I stayed close to those Israelis for the remainder of the night- they certainly knew how to party! MarLo closed his set with a real belter, I Don’t Deserve You Now by Paul Van Dyk ft Plumb, which of course had everybody singing along and was, in my opinion, the perfect way to finish things off.

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Spot the Brit amongst the Israelis…

A deep, space age voice announced the next act, Markus Schulz, a man I’d seen many times, albeit not for a while. As he made his way on to the stage, the visuals up on the screen portraying a Roman amphitheatre transformed into something which resembled outer space- it was all pretty trippy. Fisherman & Hawkins, who had played at the warm-up party in Mecca the night before, came and joined our ever-increasing group, as did Thomas Coastline, who had been on earlier that night. Markus played a number of his own tracks, such as A Better You, The New World and his release with Ferry Corsten, Loops and Tings. I enjoyed hearing his mashup of Stoneface & Terminal’s Spectre and Sebastien & Hagedorn’s High on You, which preceded Novaspace’s newest release, Cygnus. Like MarLo, Markus surprised us at the end with a cover of an old pop song, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, cleverly reworked by Infusion. After that, we were treated to a 15-minute Transmix by Vision Impossible, during which I opted for a change of scene and walked up to the seating area. The view from there was simply incredible, but nobody was dancing! And with songs like The Theme, Hey Now and Free Tibet, I didn’t see how it was possible not to dance. Back to the barmy Israelis it was.

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The view from above

Next up was Ferry Corsten as Gouryella, who came on at 2am but as the clocks went back that morning, he also ended at 2am. An extra hour of raving was a nice bonus, and totally unexpected, as I had no idea it was happening until I saw the schedule. As you’d expect, Gouryella was the first track that got played, as projections of the man himself appeared on the screen. He then proceeded to alternate between Ferry Corsten tracks, such as Reborn and Anahera, and those produced under the Gouryella alias, like Ligaya and Walhalla. He topped things off with Neba, the much-anticipated follow up to Anahera, an uplifting number reminiscent of Gouryella’s classic style.

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Big Ferry, little Ferry

After Ferry, it was time for the legend that is John O’Callaghan to take to the stage. I’d already seen him play twice over the summer, and his set at Captured Festival in Ibiza was one of the highlights of the year for me. JOC never fails to amaze me though, as this set was totally different; darker and more powerful, which actually I prefer. I can safely say I loved hearing every song that got played, as it was just one banger after another, but the standout tracks had to be the new Will Atkinson song, which I believe is called Chasing After You, and Beg Your Pardon by Bryan Kearney pres. Karney, which is probably my favourite song of the year. Yes, it’s more Techno than Trance, but that suits me just fine as I adore both genres and it’s always nice to have a bit of variety. It was also great to hear Cold Blue’s brilliant remix of Steal This Track for the first time, which I’ve been listening to non-stop since. Naturally, JOC played a number of his own tracks as well, including The Forging of Steel and Lies Cost Nothing, before ending on his Dark mix of Armin Van Buuren’s I’ll Listen. What an absolute stonker of a performance! Once again, the mighty Mr. O’Callaghan’s set was my favourite of the night.

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A highly impressive performance by JOC

Nicely energised after that set, I was ready for the next artists, Driftmoon and ReOrder, who were to DJ back-to-back. Although JOC was a hard act to follow, they managed it quite well, with an uplifting 140bpm set that kept everyone stomping away for the next hour and a half. Songs that stood out were ReOrder & Katty Heath – Love Again and Tritonal’s Blackout. The two men went on to play some Psytrance towards the end, before finishing off with a couple of classics, PPK’s Resurrection and the timeless Silence. Last, but by no means least, it was the popular Psytrance duo Vini Vici’s turn to play to the masses. I was feeling a bit weak after dancing non-stop for so long, so I returned to the seating area and wolfed down a slice of pizza (love that you could buy pizza here) and enjoyed the show from above once again. Vini Vici’s set started with a bang, with their most famous song to date, The Tribe, followed by a Psy rework of Tiesto’s Lethal Industry. I was raving away in my chair – it was impossible not to! Afterwards, I rushed back down to the dancefloor, just as Namaste came on. Amazingly, it was still packed and the crowd were going for it just as hard as they were right at the start. After dropping another of their own tracks, Talking with U.F.O’s, they played a series of classic Trance songs, beginning with Binary Finary’s 1998 and a fantastic mashup of Robert Miles’s Children and We Come in Peace by Liquid Soul & Zyce, followed by Adagio for Strings. After that, it was back to the Psytrance with Tick Tock by Sesto Sento and finishing things off with that much-loved remix of Free Tibet.

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The final act of the night: Vini Vici

Overall, Transmission 2016 far was a tremendous success and far exceeded my expectations. Not only was the music on point, but I could not have asked for a better crowd, plus the ‘Lost Oracle’ show was truly mesmerising, with all the lasers, confetti cannons, smoke displays and onstage dancers. It blew my mind. Can’t wait for Transmission 2017!

Review: Captured Festival

Last year, I visited the White Isle for the first time and enjoyed it so much that I found myself crying hysterically on the day of my flight (I have since discovered this is not uncommon), as I simply didn’t feel ready to leave. My friends and I had gone for a long weekend and only managed to get to a couple of parties, one of which was Captured Festival, Ibiza’s only Trance festival, which is held in an abandoned zoo. This year, I listed it as one of my 3 must-visit electronic music festivals and spent most of the summer getting excited about returning to my favourite island and seeing what Captured 2016 had in store for us Trance fanatics.

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The highly appealing swimming pool

The day started off nicely – it was blissfully hot and the first thing I laid eyes upon when I entered the zoo was a swimming pool, which must have been closed last year as I don’t remember it being there, but I was very pleased to see it and got in almost right away. Once I’d cooled off, I clambered out of the pool, feeling nicely refreshed and went and stood in the queue for body painting. This was a bit of an error on my part; the queue was so long and there was no shade, meaning everyone was getting a bit restless and grumpy, but we were all determined to get ourselves painted! However, after a while, I heard the intro to Oxia’s ‘Domino’, one of my favourite tracks (an oldie, but a goodie) and decided I had to go and dance to it. It was coming from the Main Stage, where Sam Mitcham was manning the decks, and he went on to play another Techno classic, ‘Talking to You’ by Josh Wink. Seamlessly blending in the Trance with the Techno, Sam treated us to tracks like Jerome Isma-Ae’s remix of Orkidea’s ‘Nana’ and Dan Brazier’s bootleg of the legendary ‘God Is A DJ’. By the time he’d finished his set, I realised I’d probably lost my place in the body-painting queue… oh well. Totally worth it!

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Max Graham working his magic

Next to take to the Main Stage was Max Graham, who I’d never seen before, so I was intrigued to see what kind of set he’d play. Like Sam, he mixed Trance with Techno, getting a thumbs up from me as I love both genres and always appreciate a DJ with an eclectic style. Max kicked things off with the beautiful ‘Sun in Your Eyes’ by Above & Beyond- what a way to start! He then mixed that in to a brilliant remix of ‘Power’, courtesy of Hoxton Whores & HXTN before throwing in beloved Trance classic, ‘As The Rush Comes’, which I’ve heard on the dancefloor countless times, yet somehow it never gets old. As the sun began to set, Max slowed things down with his own remix of ‘Not Enough’ by Solid Stone and Jennifer Rene, a blissfully Balearic number, before ending with Mark Knight’s ‘Yebisah’. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed by that performance.

Thrillseekers playing ‘Affinity’ in the Seal Pit

Opting for a change of scene, I walked across to the Seal Pit Arena, where the mighty Thrillseekers was halfway through playing a vinyl set. The arena was absolutely packed, and each and every person was dancing. That’s what I love about these types of event; people really let go and enjoy themselves, rather than standing around posing, which makes a nice change from the likes of Amnesia and some other superclubs. As expected, Steve played a number of Trance classics, including an instrumental version of 4 Strings’ ‘Take me Away’ and ‘Universal Nation’ by Push. He also treated us to the gorgeous ‘Clear Blue Water’ by Oceanlab, before finishing on one of my favourites, ‘Age of Love’. A flawless ending to a flawless set.

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John O’Callaghan on the Main Stage

I had to go back to the Main Stage after that, as up next was John O’Callaghan, whose set at Cream the previous week was so fantastic that it had left me wanting more. This time, he managed to excel himself and play an even better set, during which I simply could not stop stomping! I had arrived just as Will Atkinson was finishing things off with his awesome remix of ‘Sunset on Ibiza’ and felt a bit gutted that I’d missed him but hey, you can’t see them all and unfortunately it’s necessary to make a few sacrifices at these festivals. JOC blasted out a number of vocal gems, beginning with Flynn & Denton’s ‘Say My Name’ and proceeding with another favourite of mine, ‘Ashley’ by Filo & Peri. Naturally, the crowd were singing along and the singing got louder as JOC progressed with a track of his, ‘Stay With Me’ – I think that had to be one of the highlights of the entire day. It was banger after banger after that, with so many more great vocal tracks, including Bryan Kearney’s ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ and a remix of Zara’s ‘Lost’. He played more of his own tracks as well, such as ‘Lies Cost Nothing’, ‘One Special Particle’ and his remix of ‘Save Me’ by Gareth Emery. Towards the end, the magnificent Mr O’Callaghan took us all right back with an old school number, Binary Finary’s ‘1999’. Could not have asked for more than that.

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The crowd going nuts during JOC’s set

After two hours of incessant dancing, I decided to take a short break with my friends on one of the bean bags by the pool. From there, we could hear the pounding beats emerging from the Animal Hospital, a new stage hosting Hard Dance acts such as BK, Andy Farley and Rob Tissera. I had wanted to check out this stage, but simply couldn’t tear myself away from the Trance!  After roughly half an hour, we made our way back to the Main Stage, just as Bryan Kearney dropped a banging remix of ‘Come to Me’, which the crowd went mental to. Despite being the last act on that stage, Bryan managed to keep everyone’s energy levels high with uplifting mash-ups like ‘Pearl Airport’ (Photographer vs Johnny Shaker) and ‘Out Of BeachWave’ (Rank 1 vs John O’Callaghan vs Nalin & Kane). That’s three for the price of one right there! Like the other DJs I’d seen that day, he also dropped in a couple of Trance classics, namely ‘Supernature’ by Stoneface & Terminal and his edit of ‘Take Me Away’. I also got to hear the very song that first got me into Trance, the sublime ‘Saltwater’ by Chicane. That was a special moment for me. Kearney finished his set off with a filthy Psy track, which I am yet to discover the name of, but you can hear it in the video below. 

Bryan Kearney ending his set in style

Things came to an end at midnight, when everyone began making their way onto the bus to head back into town and on to the after party. I was exhausted, but couldn’t resist going along so that I could see Jordan Suckley, Scot Project and Sam Mitcham (for the fifth time!) All in all, a combination of the atmosphere at Captured Festival 2016, the glorious weather, and the unbeatable line-up made it a true success and I’m already looking forward to seeing how the festival shapes up next year.

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Sunfall

The first ever Sunfall took place just over a week ago at Brockwell Park, Brixton and from the minute I saw it advertised for the first time, I knew it had to be on my list of must-visit music festivals for the summer. Not only were some of my favourite artists on the agenda, namely Ben Klock and Mind Against (I’m a bit of a Technohead), but the festival organisers had the genius idea of combining the main event with a series of after parties, with one ticket granting access to both the day party and an after party of your choice. I thought this was an inspired concept, as so many London festivals have a ridiculously early curfew, meaning the festivalgoers are left at a bit of a loose end once the music stops. The other way in which it differed from most festivals in London was its sound system, which was exceptionally powerful- a nice change from having to push your ears up against the speaker in order to hear the music properly!

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Kicking things off with Fatima Yamaha 

After queuing for a fairly short period of time, I went straight to the North tent to catch the start of Fatima Yamaha’s set. I hadn’t ever seen this man play before, but the friends I was with wanted to go along and I trust their taste in music, so I thought I’d join them. I was pleasantly surprised, as is so often the case when you go to see an act with no expectations. The tent was busy, without being too packed, and Fatima certainly captivated his audience, who swayed to his slow-burning synth tracks and began chanting along when he dropped the famous ‘What’s a Girl to Do’. From Deep House to Techno (that’s the beauty of these eclectic festivals), it was time to check out Donato Dozzy next. For some of my friends, it was a bit too early in the day to be exposed to rolling, Trance-induced Techno, but this is my kind of a music down to a T and it certainly got me going. Despite only being able to catch the last half hour of the set, I’d say it was one of my most memorable performances of the day.

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Having fun in the sun

Once Donato had put down his headphones, I decided to explore the festival a bit and take a look at some of the other stages. We were lucky to have blissfully balmy weather, so it was nice just to sit on the mud-free grass and chill, but I spent more time queuing for the toilets than doing that (Sunfall, that’s my only criticism; more portaloos next year please!) After grabbing a delicious halloumi wrap, I was feeling refreshed and revived and in the mood for some more Techno. Initially, I had wanted to see Job Jobse play back-to-back with Joy Orbison, but the North tent was simply too crowded and there was very little space to dance, which is enough to put me off. Besides, I knew I’d be seeing Joy O later that night at the Dimensions after party, so I didn’t mind giving his daytime set a miss.

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The incredible (and also incredibly hot) Ben Klock

The next act I saw was Mind Against. I had high expectations for these guys, as I’d seen them once before at TimeWarp in Buenos Aires and remembered being completely blown away. Thankfully, they did not disappoint this time round – their set was massive enough to fulfill that mighty sound system and I found myself unable to stop dancing until the very end. It served nicely as a warm up for the next and last DJ I saw that day, the mighty Ben Klock, whose set I’d been looking forward to all afternoon. I don’t even think I can put his performance into words; it was simply incredible. Those pounding, relentless beats had me repeatedly yelling “This is so f***ing good!” to nobody in particular, whilst fist pumping with one arm and using my other to cling on to the barrier in front of me (I had a great position which I could hardly give up). We all quite literally stomped till we dropped in that tent, which I can safely say was my favourite spot of the festival, mostly because each of the artists I saw there smashed it, but also because I found the people more genuine. It seemed to attract real music lovers, who were drawn to the festival by a desire to support the acts they adore, as opposed to a lot of the festival attendees, who I think just saw Sunfall as an excuse to get pissed.

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Sunset at Sunfall

We stuck around to watch the sun go down over the festival site, before taking part in a spontaneous yoga session-  just what you need after a day of raving! It was then time to refuel before heading to the Dimensions after party at Bussey Building, where Joy Orbison and Ryan Elliott were due to play back-to-back until 5am. This was when my excitement really kicked in, being a creature of the night, for as good as it was, the day party had felt like the warm up and for me, THIS was the main event. Joy Orbison treated us to a nice mix of Techno, Deep House and Funky House, even throwing in a bit of Hip Hop at one stage. To my surprise (and it was indeed a very pleasant surprise), the venue wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting it to be, considering it was a sold out event. I can only presume that a large number of people had overdone it during the day and peaked too early, a shame for them, but it meant the rest of us had plenty of space to flail our limbs. Unfortunately, Ryan Elliott never showed up and when we asked where he was, the festival organisers claimed they “couldn’t find him” as apparently he’d simply disappeared after his daytime set. I later found out from Ryan that he’d gone to take a quick nap and woken up four hours later when, much to his horror, he realised it was too late to go down to the venue. A pity, but nobody seemed too disappointed and it didn’t make the after party any less enjoyable. Even after the lights had come on, there was a decent number of people still going for it on the dance floor, and a handful of us actually made it to a second after party (but that’s another story).

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Joy Orbison tearing up the decks

Overall, the first Sunfall was a pretty big success, thanks to its wonderfully diverse line-up and all the different after party options, which meant there was something for everyone. To find out about what Sunfall 2017 has in store, you can register via the festival’s official website and receive all the most up-to-date information on the event. I’m sure, and indeed I hope, I’ll get to go again next summer. In the meantime, here’s to more music and fun in the sun as this year’s festival season continues!

Written by: Milly Day