London is adding a new chapter to its dance music history books with the opening of a new late-night venue over New Years Eve weekend.
E1 London is a former factory that’s been transformed into a vast, world-class music space, simply waiting to host the who’s who in established and emerging talent from the global dance realm.
The new club will be opening on NYE weekend and is boasting a stellar 27-hour lineup in honor of the occasion. E1’s presenting an enticing array of melodic and electronic heavyweights such as Âme, Mano Le Tough, Kiasmos, and Denis Horvat. In the early hours of New Years’ Day, E1 will be moving into a more intense sonic style with the Klockworks boss Ben Klock holding it down, plus a number of fervent sets from Rødhåd, Planetary Assault Systems, and more.
E1 London also promises a state of the art audio experience as it has collaborated with Sound Services Ltd on a new bespoke, integrated Funktion-One sound system for the venue.
Techno has been an unshakeable force in American electronic music culture since its stateside inception in 1980s Detroit. In recent years – particularly since the unofficial “EDM boom” of 2010 – techno has served as an underground resistance of sorts to many of dance music’s more commercial iterations. Since assuming this role in the US dance music dichotomy, techno has appreciated a substantial surge in popularity. As taste-makers become compelled to form their own events, and as event producers become more tasteful themselves, there has been a visible push to elevate the sounds of the underground to a broader stage.
In Los Angeles, Minimal Effort stands at the forefront of this endeavor. Founded in 2013 by industry veterans including Cyril Batar, Minimal Effort set out to create something “raw,” that would appeal to the underground tastes of seasoned club connoisseurs, but would also attract broader audiences in an effort to expand the Los Angeles techno scene. As Bitar puts it, “Our vision is to instill the existence of awareness and appreciation of sophisticated dance culture in LA—but above ground so it’s accessible to all.”
Three years since its establishment, Minimal Effort continues to grow as a major influencer in the LA techno renaissance. The company’s success – particularly with their benchmark Halloween and New Year’s Eve mini-festivals – has been the result of their resilience, adaptability, authenticity, and most importantly, their tasteful bookings. Though inevitable complications led Minimal Effort to switch their NYE 2016 event to Downtown LA’s Globe Theater at the last minute, the show was resoundingly successful in bringing the underground to the city’s surface.
Henry Saiz Live Band. Image by Chris Soltis.
For their New Year’s Eve event, Minimal Effort refashioned the Globe Theater into a three-tiered manifestation of club culture’s different facets over the course of a 12-hour party. Upstairs, nestled just past the VIP viewing balconies, the Space Yacht stage hosted the lineup’s most widely-accessible acts in the venues most upbeat setting. Evoking the essence of a lounge, Space Yacht recruited the talents of tech house and deep house fixtures such as Amtrac, Kastle, and Sacha Robotti, offering respite to those wishing to socialize or take a brief break from the warehouse sensibilities below.
The Basement stage, as its name suggests, provided quite literal representation of underground house and techno. Led by Mikey Lion, Porkchop, Lee Reynolds, and Marbs, the Desert Hearts Crew took command over the party’s subterranean level. The Southern Californian collective reveled in the darkened cavern’s sonorous acoustics, taking advantage of the warehouse ambience afforded by its minimal lighting as the ideal forum to promote their core mantra of “House. Techno. Love.”
Basement. Image by Jamie Rosenberg.
Desert Hearts bookended the Basement stage’s itinerary with a diverse blend of house, techno and wildly divergent samplings throughout their intermittent tenures. From 7:00-9:00, the cabal of performers heightened attendees’ energy for the tribal stylings of South American luminary Nicola Cruz, the eldritch techno of the quickly ascending German bellwether &ME, and dutifully-woven, electro-infused offerings from legendary British duo Simian Mobile Disco. From 1:00-4:00, Desert Hearts returned to their post, allowing underground carousers to continue the Basement’s bacchanalia well into the wee hours of 2017.
Minimal Effort’s main attraction for the evening was, of course, the Theater stage, which allowed attendees the rare opportunity to see icons of techno’s underground in a full-fledged concert setting. As the bulk of attendees filed into the venue in the hours leading up to the ball drop, Human Resources (Bitar’s own duo with Ahmed Elwan) and Francesca Lombardo took center stage. Lombardo would reprise this role the following day, presiding as the headliner for Minimal Effort’s New Year’s Day recovery event, to which concertgoers were given complimentary access.
Audion. Image by Chris Soltis.
The sacred responsibility of ushering in the new year was bestowed upon Audion, the experimental techno alias of veteran DJ Matthew Dear. Indeed, no performer on the festival’s bill could have proved to be more fitting than Dear for two reasons. Firstly, Audion’s electrifying brand of techno matched the raucous energy of the NYE countdown far better than the more somber tones of his successors would have. Secondly, there is an ephemeral, perhaps epochal nature to any Audion set; Alpha, Dear’s 2016 album under his alter-ego, came after a decade-long hiatus from the Audion project. Among the crowd, there was a tacit appreciation for the ability to catch the Texan techno maverick in 2017, as it may be quite some time before the opportunity re-emerges.
Recondite provided the Theater stage’s first set of 2017, and likely, the event’s most-anticipated. In November, the German producer purveyed an EMOTY-nominated Essential Mix consisting entirely of his own music, cementing his status as one of the year’s most fervently-acclaimed techno artists. Amid the uninitiated, Lorenz Brunner’s primely-slotted set invoked a palpable sense of wonderment regarding how he would translate the essence of his definitive BBC Radio 1 set into a live context. Indeed, Recondite did not disappoint, as he transported his audience into an abyss of ominous, cerebral, and deeply mesmerizing techno. Arguably one of the night’s most scintillating moments revealed itself in the climax of Brunner’s “Warg,” as the crash of its inaugural snare pervaded throughout the venue in a cold, sonic eruption that would not leave spectators’ spines until the next day’s hangovers arrived.
Stephan Bodzin. Image by Chris Soltis.
If Recondite was Minimal Effort’s darkest act, then Stephan Bodzin was the festival’s albatross – guiding wayward listeners back into the light with his utterly transcendental instrumentations. Yet, this light would prove to be beguiling, as Bodzin plunged into more sinister realms. Evoking the essence of Mercury, Bodzin’s minimal, yet shimmering visual backdrop set an awe-inspiring stage for the legendary techno pioneer’s auditory journey. Standing solemnly behind a Moog synthesizer, Bodzin traversed a wide range of emotions and sensibilities, never pigeonholing his performance to one reductive essence.
Minimal Effort’s attendees concluded their night at the Theater stage with the psychedelic visuals and celestial stylings of the Henry Saiz Live Band. Providing the most ethereal set of the night, the outfit’s live instrumentations displayed a different facet to the techno festival, and offered a hope-inspiring transition out of the festival and into the new year.
At the end of the 12-hour dance marathon, it was clear that techno is continuing to become a much larger force in the Los Angeles club scene, and Minimal Effort is going to be a large part of this ascension.
Now, the Essential Mix has released their nominees for the year’s most definitive contributions. 2016 had no dearth of remarkable contributions from prodigious DJs to the series, as is evinced by the five skillful song-weavers who have been nominated for this year’s award: Âme X Dixon, Dusky, Leon Vynehall, Midland, and Recondite.
Learn more about this year’s EOTY candidates and listen to their nominated mixes below:
Âme X Dixon
Âme, the German duo of Kristian Beyer and Frank Wiedemann, are no strangers to working with Dixon. The partnership have contributed regularly to Dixon’s Innervisions label, and have an eagerly-awaited album slated to be released on the imprint in 2017. Dixon sent techno devotees into a frenzy when he decided to team up with the duo for his third Essential Mix as a continuation of the program’s X series – which sees notable artists, such as Eric Prydz and Jeremy Olander, provide b2b sets. Âme X Dixon was undeniably one of 2016’s most hyped Essential Mixes, and given its abilities to live up to expectations, is deserving of its nomination.
British artist Leon Vynehall provided perhaps one of the most uplifting Essential Mixes of the year, and certainly the most uplifting of 2016’s EMOTY nominees. Over the course of the two hour set, Vynehall melds of house, jazz, funk, and mystifying soundscapes. This selection marks Vynehall’s first Essential Mix.
Lorenz Brunner’s abstruse vision of techno astutely justifies his choice to produce and DJ under the Recondite moniker. The German artist has purveyed an array of dark, recondite music for a number of esteemed imprints, including Innervisions and Dystopian. In November, Recondite provided his debut Essential Mix, a dreamily umbral curation which will surely entreat Pete Tong to invite him back to the broadcast.
British DJ/producer Harry Agius continues the trend of virginal EOTY nominees, following his spellbinding Essential Mix as Midland in late February. Midland’s series contribution is as eclectically-curated as it is carefully-compiled. Over the course of his two-hour mix, Midland impressively succeeds in his career goal to “create a homogeneous sound that people from different musical persuasions can appreciate.”
The British duo of Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman, have had a momentous year in 2016. In October, Dusky released their second album, Outer, to great critical reception. In an interview with Dancing Astronaut, Dusky remarked that they came to conceptualize Outer to celebrate and delve into their diverse influences: “…we wanted to express what kind of tastes we were into because we’ve got really eclectic tastes, and wanted to explore different ideas and styles and cover all the bases.” The duo’s November Essential Mix continues this trend, as Dusky astutely “cover all the bases,” drawing from an array of genres to culminate in a mix that is sometimes mellifluous, sometimes harrowing, but always fundamentally danceable.
BBC Radio 1’s venerated Essential Mix has hosted a plethora of enticing debuts thus far in 2016, the most recent being German producer Recondite. The Bavarian veteran decided to celebrate the occasion by weaving together two hours of entirely his own productions.
The mix starts off slow, ambient, and ethereal, subtly building up tempo until it reaches a consistent run of Recondite’s melodically-inclined, hypnotic brand of techno that has placed him in high demand as of late. In doing so, he traverses an intense path through various emotions communicated by way of bass, synth, and percussion that leave fans no choice but to keep listening until the last minute.