One DJ, one room, no certainties

So an extended early weekend for me with Thursday and Friday spent coiffing back the mattes and bass bumping up in my chest. Suffice to say the rest of the weekend was a lot more reclined save for the 19km run on Sunday.. but that’s another story.

So an unusually sober couple of stints led me to a few observations and shed further light onto my (misguided) enamour with this culture, even after all these years. These were mainly related to presence and fame of the artists versus functionality of the room (i.e. environment) and programming they find themselves within (i.e. expectations).

The first night out, I went to see Mor Elian play at About Blank for the good people at Retrograde. Greg Beato of LIES fame was the headliner and main draw to the party. Programmed in at the same time as Mor, he lost the crowd fairly soon with a blend of instrumental hip hop and laid back house and techno, staying true to the LIES mentality of “if it aint broke…. well…. break it”. These guys really do ride off their outsider status and full credit to them for sticking to their guns, the music had (real) soul and emotion, it just wasn’t the Berlin party music anticipated by the up-for-it Thursday night crowd and the boxy main room soon thinned out, leaving it cold and empty as a result.

Meanwhile, Mor played a super tight set, locking a young crowd in the groove and seamlessly mixing up tracky techno with UKG, new wave and electro. Again, the functionality of the room comes into play. The Lobby, as it is named is is effectively a corridor, so it is unsurprisingly hard for DJs to build the right moment for the tracks that really bring an ever revolving cast on the dance floor together. Fortunately Mor had enough feeling and emotion in her grooves to keep the synergy between body and mind of all there. The reception she got as she passed over to Willie Burns was thoroughly well deserved. Its a great feeling to to look forward to another of your artist’s sets, which will now be Boiler Room in February. During which I will be nowhere near the camera.

Sleep, work and eating all done on Friday and it was time to get down to The Big Club and to get down with the club freaks and fanboys at my first ever Get Perlonized. The night was a lot of fun, although I always leave the ex DDR power station on the boundary of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain with far more questions than answers, which we wont go into here. The main point I’d like to make is about DJ Sprinkles, who has been my favourite DJ this year, going on the 2 times I have seen her, in March at Arena and August at About Blank.

First her music loses much of its subtlety on the Panorama Bar system, which is set up to reinforce the physicality of the music. For me, the small details are what makes her a DJ to really connect with through the shared intimacy of her music. Hers are uncompromising selections for small spaces with the deep, jazzy intricacies that rarely exist or work in the club context. The Sprinkles mixing style of blending long, hypnotic tracks together, often over 15 minutes long creates the mental palette where these most intricate tracks can stand out.

Although the music in form is smooth and soulful, its deployment in most clubs is almost spikey in its rejection of genre. Sprinkles was unfortunately unable to conjure up the moments of magic from that August afternoon that really made it a set to remember. Next time I seek out Sprinkles I’m hoping for her to be booked in her own right and not have to pander to the the expectation that comes with playing the Perlon parties tend to the set of preconceptions that come with it.


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