Messrs. Pseudo and Nym would imagine that Heaven – the gay club – has seen some special nights. Given how instrumental (pun fully intended) the gay scene has been to the development of house and its subsequent splinter groups, it is no surprise that the arches have hosted a who’s who of house music. Even so, a line-up consisting entirely of headline-worthy acts – including Xavier de Rosnay (of Justice infamy), Boys Noize, Tiga, Mixhell, Riton and Busy P – promised something extra special.
So Pseudo and Nym were in hopeful mood as they tottered towards Heaven from Gordon’s Wine Bar, claret-red cheeks lighting their way. Standing in line and overhearing such bourgeois audacity as ‘I’ve got a National Trust Membership Card, I’m clearly over 18’ only improved things. Even the byzantine complexities of the guest list served only to build their anticipation. But nothing prepared them for what they found when they passed under the arches and into the dark beyond.
Imagine the saloon of the Titanic, having struck the iceberg, passengers fled but band still playing a merry tune, sacrificing themselves to the cause of music and loyalty to their captain. So were Pseudo and Nym greeted by Laima Leyton of Mixhell presiding over a near empty dance floor (it was only 22.03) with all the intensity of an Atlantic storm. No warm up acts tonight!
So Jensen Interceptor’s superb ‘Body Work’ swelled into ‘Talking To You’ by Josh Wink before breaking upon Mixhell’s own ‘Antigalactic’, just as the waves crashed about the ship. Such was the energy of her set that her audience actually grew, careless of the ice-cold waters of the opening set. Before many could draw breath, it was 23.30. And as the last traces of Cardopusher’s ‘Action Potential’ receded, Monsieur Nym thought that this was already enough for the night to be a triumph.
Monsieur Pseudo, still slightly dazed (in truth not so used to Mixhell’s particular joie de vivre), wandered off for a moment and soon found himself in a mysterious attic space with an empty bar, floor and DJ booth. But having puzzled for a moment over the curious two-by-one metre “dance podium” raised a hazardous six inches from the rest of the dance floor, he realised that he was not alone. A DJ emerged from a trap door and an audience, what appeared to be a Depeche Mode tribute band competing for the affections of an 18 year old Beth Gibbons (of Portishead fame), took shape.
More earthly distractions were soon forgotten, however, as Hoshina Anniversary (for the DJ was he) sprang into life with Fudge Fingas’ aptly named ‘Ghost House’. If Mixhell was all froth and foam and ocean spray, here was a thin mist in which figures formed, then dissipated, as the beats ebbed and flowed. Stanny Abram’s ‘Tse’khene’ floated into Hoshina’s own ‘Sweet Track of Mine’ and with it coalesced a crowd almost worthy of the quality of the music (but such is the eternal torment of Room Two that it is forever under-attended). Even Mr Noize emerged mid-way through the set (from whatever techno netherworld the trap-door sealed) just as an ethereal a capella version of Mr Fingers’ ‘Can you feel it’ rippled the veil. Clearly he was the evening’s barometer of cool.
By now Riton (a Pseudo and Nym favourite) and Busy P (erstwhile manager of Daft Punk) were back to back. Or rather Busy P was bouncing around the deck whilst Riton lent on one of the monitors with all the casualness of a man long accustomed to long nights sipping smoky malts in smoky jazz bars. Theirs was an intriguing pairing, oscillating between electro tracks such as the Daft Punk tribute ‘Rhymes’ by Hannah Wants and Brodinski’s ‘Need For Speed’ and more obscure offerings such as Rex the Dog’s ‘Sicko’ and Anthony Rother’s remix of Aux88’s ‘Voice Modulation’. The set even found space for a thoroughly welcome reprise of the Frankie Knuckles/Jamie Principal classic ‘Baby Wants To Ride’.
Back in Room Two, Éclair Fifi was busy demonstrating that progressive house is almost acceptable (but only if it masquerades as 80s-style New Retro Wave and is used a maximum of once per set) with Piyush Awasthi’s ‘Worbbles’. Here Pseudo and Nym were in danger of falling out over whether the set was actually any good until she dropped T_A_M’s ‘Damned If I Do’, Monsieur Nym’s bubble pipe fell from his mouth, and the now not inconsiderable dance floor shuffled into life (well, those who weren’t engaged in a game of trip-hop with the low-lying dance podium). It seemed that techno was being downplayed by everybody but Boys Noize (which, perhaps, was only natural).
A short nap later and it was time for Tiga’s all too brief set. Beginning with the excellent Johnny Aux remix of Shit Robot’s ‘Where It’s At’, even the bouncers began to dance as Tiga’s ‘Bugatti’ roared into life. But this was all prelude for THE MAIN EVENT – Xavier de Rosnay back to back with Mr Noize himself.
Justice have been relatively silent for some time now – although a third album is rumoured to be on its way – and Xavier’s half of this set persuaded Pseudo and Nym that the world has been all the poorer for it. A veritable crowd pleaser, the light-hearted mix of disco and funk was just reward for enduring six hours of variations on a theme of techno. So Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer and Michael Jackson were liberally sprinkled among more conventional offerings such as Tiga’s remix of Justice’s ‘Canon’, ‘Stress’ and ‘Civilisation’.
The highlight of all of this was that the crowd finally heard some treble and, though some readers may not believe it, a melody. This, Monsieur Nym speculates, was Xavier de Rosnay’s doing. DJs must learn to walk the floor during sets. All too often they remain apart from the unwashed masses of the dance floor in their ivory tower, insulated from things as vulgar as sound engineering and decibels. Which is fine if you ask the bar for some free earplugs – all venues offer them – and do not mind spending the rest of the night playing charades with your companions. Pseudo and Nym do not quite understand how it works, being uninitiated in the ways of modern science. All they know is that inserting bits of foam in one’s ear acts as the perfect equalizer. So, future Clubbers, wear earplugs; and you, future DJs, walk the floor and learn to turn down the bass. Otherwise some critics will begin to suspect that you lack the confidence for people to hear anything other than how many beats per minute your bass has.
Having said all of this, Boys Noize was far from outdone. Surrounded by all the denizens of Boys Noize Records (the stage was obnoxiously full) he crackled with an energy that he had kept simmering all night. Old favourites like Para One’s remix of ‘Jeffer’ and ‘XTC’ combined with some surprisingly progressive offerings such as Jackson and his Computer Band’s ‘Blood Bust’ and Baauer’s collaboration with Boys Noize ‘RunX’. But what techno was on offer was soon transubstantiated into the spirit of Disco; the implications for future techno are worrying, and Nym will retreat to his cave to ponder them.
With the strains of Heart’s ‘Magic Men’ fading gently from memory Pseudo and Nym emerged from Heaven, blinking, on an alarmingly bright London morning. The pair began their long totter back to a Soho eyrie happy, tired and slowly growing accustomed to ambient sound. But as Nym pondered more bass things, Pseudo could not help but reflect on Time’s ruins, the seven laws and whether he would ever have got past Plastic People’s bouncers armed with his Liberty loyalty card.
Written by Messrs. Pseudo and Nym