'The Highlight of The Weekend Came On Saturday, When The Senses Were Treated In Every Way Imaginable': Review - Houghton Festival 2018
- Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2018 10:15
“It’s for one weekend so you’ve got to get it right”, these were the delicately spoken words of Craig Richards in anticipation of Houghton Festival 2018. A place that was described by many as an electronic music utopia in its inaugural year and where getting it right was surpassed once again.
The festival is set in the traditional grounds of Houghton Hall, a Palladian Mansion built in the 1720's for Britain’s first Prime Minister. It is a vast estate featuring immaculate hedge rows, herds of white fallow deer, bracken, mysterious woodland and a large gleaming lake. The atmosphere feels curious and inspiring. Produced by the same team who present Gottwood, the focus on creating a unique experience was at every twist and turn taken throughout the 4 days.
Music and art are often used in the same breath, but no festival I have encountered before has managed to display both in such an intriguing and compelling manner. Scattered across the site were multiple distinctive paintings and sculptures created by Craig Richards and other carefully selected artists, some in obscure places, but still feeling wholly natural. The stages, of which there were 13 in total, all held their own characteristics, considering aspects of programming and the landscape they were a part of. The captivating ‘Pavilion’, designed by a multi-disciplinary group of architects, was a simple wooden structure contained under the forest. By day it allowed you to take in the beauty of the lake in the backdrop and by night it became a glowing, UFO like focal point. Tantrum, the name of a weekly new weekly night of electro, otherworldly noises and drumbeats initiated by Craig Richards and Adam Shelton was turned into a stage at the festival, bringing these sounds to a UK rave inspired tent with shipping containers and raw materials.
Terminus, a secret stage accessible only by land train featured rare b2b’s and hidden gems all weekend for those lucky enough to find it and which will not be described for those that are still yet to.
Phone signal was non-existent; however this again felt purposeful and allowed you to become fully immersed in the environment, people opting to dance rather than film. Sound systems were carefully tailored and ripe no matter the size of the stage, resulting in you being able to stand in any location and feel the music. The food also felt like another form of art, with a floating restaurant, pop-up El Pastor’s and dozens of other high quality stalls to choose from.
Trevino’s, a cultural space and meeting point for the festival had leather sofas, pop up record stores, turntables for listeners and a set of 1210’ for artists to play on throughout the day. A friendly and welcoming area, people were allowed to select records at ease whilst being provided by expert recommendations by the store owners. It allowed strangers to come together, some who I’m sure became friends, through sharing their musical tastes and past experiences. It had the feeling of a unification of a scene through the most important aspects, the physical. Aptly named after the late Marcus Kaye aka Markus Intalex aka Trevino, a man who epitomised Houghton in his diversity of sound and attention to detail.
Embarking on the 72 hour non-stop musical odyssey on Thursday evening, Adam Shelton and Cassy opened up The Warehouse, a lofty hangar constructed out of metal. A dark space with piercing laser beams and smoke injects, it did not take long for those that had put up tents in a downpour to dry off by filling it into frenzy and set the tone for the rest of what was to come.
On Friday it was a pleasure to finally be able to witness not one, but two Schatrax sets, a man who made his name in the 90s with house music that still sounds as deep and playable as it did then. Firstly at the Magic Carpet, a warm dome, where he demonstrated this sound and more. It’s a rare opportunity to see him play records out, so I made the effort to go and find him playing again later on, stumbling my way down an endless long dark path to find Terminus and I was not disappointed I did. Playing one of my favourites from him ‘Restless Nights’, the dubby bassline was making the whole crowd move.
Over at The Clearing, below the headlights and corrugated steel, surrounded by a crowd, Binh provided scientific, acidic oscillations of sound. Tightly mixed, often almost disturbing with Furfriend’s ‘Fist Fuck’ drawing the audience further into the booth.
Back at the Magic Carpet, Craig Richards was playing the first of one of his 6+ sets, I was as mesmerised by his track selection as I was his by unrelenting energy, shown in abundance when he played his latest release ‘My Friend is Losing His Mind’. The distorted voices, bleeps and punchy techno-electro rhythm sending the early morning dance floor into raptures.
The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday, when the senses were treated in every way imaginable. The day started with a sculpture tour in the grounds of the hall. So calm you couldn’t hear the festival at all and providing opportunity for reflection and recuperation. This was also possible in The Orchard, a sanctuary of theatre, performance art and healing therapies. Fully rested I then saw Calibre, another genius and another artist who rarely plays out live, it was special to see him play a set that displayed all his characteristics, moving through ambient, refined dubstep and liquid drum and bass. The biggest ovation came when he mixed his own ‘Wassold’ into Mala’s ‘Eyez’.
( ) MC DRS added even more life into the music. Later on in the day came some of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. Nicolas Lutz started under the darkness of the Pavilion, with bouncy, bass-heavy electro minimal bombs including ‘Gerogliftko’ on his My Own Jupiter label.
Legs and arms were feeling the rapid beats that combined NYC garage with space like noises. There was no let up throughout as people jumped around to Back to Basics by Fear-E.
Barac in The Warehouse was dreamy, melodic and a great contrast to the fast paced bumping nature of Lutz.
Now we all know Ricardo Villalobos can often confuse, delight and spellbind in equal measure, but his sunrise set at The Pavilion might be one of the best times many have seen him play. For the first few hours it was completely unhurried as he gradually cast the crowd under his spell. With long drawn out mixes blending shuffling drums, bongos and sometimes just the slightest of basslines, every single person was locked to his gaze. German vocals intertwined with cricket noises as he faded tracks in and out, sometimes bringing them back after lengthy periods out. ‘808 Thebassqueen’
featured a vocal conversation on top of it that I had never heard before. The sun slowly rose behind the booth, at one moment the sky was a purple colour, as he moved into his famous ‘Logohitz’ and a remix of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’
no one was going to be leaving this set early. Transitioning from the dim aura he had begun with the latter half sprinkled love and heart felt emotion on the deserving crowd, with tracks like DJ Koze’s ‘Pick Up’, some shutting their eyes for minutes as it played out, others embracing.
Joy Orbison woke the crowd up again on the final day with a feel good set combining classic ice cold garage including ‘Too Blind - Stone Cold Steppaz’ with house and techno joy such as Mood II Swing’s ‘Call Me (Moody Dub)’.
Punters swung t shirts round their heads and bopped with glee under the afternoon grooves. On the Derren Smart, one of the bigger and more traditional festival like stages of the weekend, Khruangbin delighted the audience with their Thai/West African influences of guitar funk. Friends held each other aloft on shoulders showing they were well and truly still alive when they ended on ‘People Everywhere’.
The band loving the reception they received with grins wide across their faces as they treated everyone to their sincere melodies.
Across the weekend DJs were frequently given 3+ hour sets and played more than once. Allowing them to explore their collections and also provide the crowd with the chance to see something different to what they might do at an ordinary club set. In turn it felt like both rose to the occasion, DJs playing records that they may never have had a chance or felt like they wanted to save for the moment. The crowd stayed rooted to sets for the duration, using every fibre in they had to show their appreciation no matter how tired they might have been from the constant dancing. In a year when Richards said everyone who attended would be treated to “the best of everything”, I can quite easily say they were and more. The only downside was that I couldn’t’t do the whole thing again to take in every aspect. Houghton brought together the community of the dance floor of all eras and genres, DJs and ravers alike, where the weekend was spent as one collective and powerful force in an unrivalled setting.
At Tantrum there was debut performance by A-Future, the new electro alias of Adam Shelton, playing a fresh exciting brand of the genre. Dark and moody cuts like the Sync 24 remix of Stratowerx’s ‘Secret State’;
sounded great in what was one of my favourite tents of the weekend. Keep an eye out for Shelton & Stratowerx’s new label ‘Eon’ which will be bringing this sound to turntables very soon.
The magic wasn’t quite finished as Helena Hauff closed out, tearing through forceful electro and techno, an eerie green mist rising from the crowd under the pouring rain, it complemented her sound perfectly. Ending on the heavily reverbed, enchanting and cinematic ‘Mutual Arising’ by Galaxian, I and many around me were longing for it to continue, but there it did finally come to an end.
Words by Tom Warner
Photo Credtis: Here & Now
- Published on Friday, 20 July 2018 13:49
In under a week, a magical annual journey will be taking place on a island on the Danube river, located on the border between Romania and Bulgaria. 25th July – 30th. Coming up to its sixth year, 3 Smoked Olives Festival proves once again why it should become a vital part of your party calendar, and also showing how large festivals can take better care of our environment and the nature they seclude themselves in. A worldwide cast have been called in for the occasion including over 40 artists such as Akufen, Dan Andrei, Ion Ludwig, Lamache, Losoul and Zendid.
A five-day music marathon, with no limit or boundaries on the variation of sounds. The musical soundscape will be unlimited with a certain underlying form; people will be dancing whether it is in the summer breeze or beneath the starry night sky. The team pride themselves on their taste in flavours spanning from house, techno, minimal, breaks, soul, jazz, reggae, you name it, and it is welcome on the island of Danube. Allowing the festivalgoers to let loose in their own particular ways.
3SOF allow you to reach full contentment before the journey has to end, and for us, that is the key.
Five days can certainly take its toll on the body, but whilst on the island there will be plenty of activities and water sports to get involved with. A small break from the dance. In the sea, you will be able to go kayaking, surfing and wakeboarding. Also on offer will be theatre shows, movie projects, improvisation classes and documentaries will be shown across the duration of the festival. Catering for everyone when they need that rest bite.
Ada Kaleh România - Akim# - Akufen - Andreiu - Andrey PUSHKAREV - Bonso - Bross - Camilo Gil & [ØNE + 1] - Charlie - Clovis - Crihan - Dan Andrei - Dj Vasile - Dragos Ilici - George L - Gescu - GOLAN - Herodot - Ion Ludwig - Junki Inoue - Kosta - AWDD - Lamache - Losoul - Maria Von C - Maxi Storrs - Mihai Pol - Mihai Popoviciu - Miss I - Mṛ Roussos - Olga Korol - Petra Acker - Piticu - Prichindel - RAHA, Tokyo, Japan - Rawness - Sedee - Sepp - Sergej - Suciu - Sweely - The Rabbit King - Vlad Dinu - Voi Cu - Zendid
Registrations are open!
SIGN UP HERE ???? https://goo.gl/j3GACf
Submerging itself even deeper in to mother nature, the festival is timed perfectly as two major natural events will be taking place, on the 27th the longest moon eclipse of the 21st century will be taking place (103 minutes), clearly visible due to the lack of urban lights in the surrounding area. The following evening a meteor shower, Delta Aquariid will be taking place, peaking at night time.
Although always taking care of the environment, a particular focus this year results on minimum waste from the festival, plastic straws will be banned from the island, cutlery and glasses are made from biodegradable materials. All waste will be disposed of with local processing agencies. A direction many festivals should be taking in this day and age.
See you there!
Full line up and more info:
Words by Zac Bidwell
- Published on Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:22
One of the most relevant clubs of the Minimal scene in Bucharest is hosting its annual event on 29th of June for a special Night Out. CLUB GUESTHOUSE since its inauguration is becoming the point of gravity off all the roaster Artists of the European Underground Scene. The event held at their home will kick off at 10pm on Friday night and estimated finish time is 6pm on Saturday night. Get your dancing shoes ready for the long marathon. (P.S.: As we all know club guesthouse, it would not surprise us if the party lasts until sunday morning.)
Petre Inspirescu and Raresh, big cheeses of the Romanian scene subtitled [a:rpia:r] for an intense and memorable music journey will drive this crispy line up.
Cabanne and Lowris, the French wheels, have started on 2017 a new and fresh collaboration called K.O.D. released already on Minibar, which is going to be introduced for the first time in Romania as the Kings of Delay.
For an impeccable set, Priku one of the most promising DJs in the minimal scene also for his stunning soft techno and and deep house productions talent, is going to join this high finest order line up.
Definetely not to miss will be Charlie very young DJ and on developing his auspicious carrer is going to join this wicked line up. Also a special mention to Cote that will be in charge of the visuals to make the event good for ears and eyes.
Take your well-needed rest today and be ready for this special night out, a mini marathon in other words!
Words by Aghnes
'You Become Part of a Community Brought Together for the Love of Great Music' Gottwood Festival Review
- Published on Thursday, 21 June 2018 09:38
Now in its 9th year, Gottwood Festival has become known as one of the best small festivals in the UK, with a loyal following who keep returning year upon year, for a lineup of the best in underground music and beautiful location. After hearing so many glowing reviews, I felt it was time that I had to experience it this year.
Setting off first thing in the morning on Thursday to reach the site at Holyhead in Anglesey, there was already a magic in the air. I travelled through tunnels and over bridges, passing sheep and mountains, before arriving at the campsite, overlooking calm seas on the Welsh north-west coast.
After pitching up the tent and getting to know the neighbours, who were Gottwood regulars and who soon became friends, I went to check out the arena where the stages lie. Walking into this area it was a joy to the senses. Initially walking through lush green woodland with tall trees, where the sun was breaking through, this plays host to lots of the smaller stages. Individual pieces of interesting, colourful, hand painted artwork are scattered throughout. The largest stage named ‘The Lawn’ is an open grassy area from the trees and is opposite an old manor house bathed in ivy; this is where the majority of the live acts and more chilled out sounds would feature across the weekend. In the middle of all the stages is a shimmering lake with lily pads and fountains, providing relaxing tranquility. With pure blue skies overhead it couldn’t have been more perfect and I spent some time just taking it in sat down next to the lake, I couldn’t think of anywhere more picturesque for a festival.
With the sun starting to drop behind the trees it was time to get stuck into some music. What better way to kick it off than with FUSE boss Enzo Siragusa and label stalwart Archie Hamilton. Playing on The Curve stage, a fairly large tent, the boys had got it filled from early on. Archie was first up playing some of his own signature tracks with distinctive percussion such as ‘Confusion’ on his own label Moscow. Enzo then took over, by which time the tent was bouncing. He played a festival party set laden with house and tech-house bombs including ‘What was Missing’ by Jamie Trench forthcoming on Seb Zito’s ‘Seven Dials’ label. To cap things off the pair then finished the night going b2b with some classic house tunes, smiles and hands raised all round. This was a great energetic start to proceedings.
Following a good sleep and with the sun continuing to glow, waking up on the Friday was made easy, with the prospect of plenty of sunshine vibes to come on the day. It became a ritual over the weekend to head to The Lawn first thing to recover, listening to some down-tempo, live electronica and dub/reggae. Ready to dance again after eating some delicious wood fired pizza, just one of many outstanding food stalls; it was time to head to the Trigon Stage.
Arguably one of the most impressive, the area is surrounded by walls of hay bales, with a wooden triangular tunnel structure leading it’s way to the DJ booth. Secretsundaze were playing, with music perfectly suited to the blistering skies, including the Dusky remix of ‘Do You Want Me Baby’ by Cloud 9. One thing worth mentioning here is the friendly attitude of everyone at the festival, it was easy and comfortable to strike up a conversation with everyone who I bumped into, including the bar staff and security. Due to the small capacity of 5000 you would often come across the same people you had been chatting to at the campsite on the dance floor and this added to a great feeling of unity and positivity that I haven’t really experienced at a festival before.
Special Request aka Paul Woolford continued the mood, moving things up a gear as it progressed into the evening, with music from his UK rave inspired album ‘Belief System’ including the wobbling bass and euphoria of ‘Make it Real’. For the night time hours it was all about the Hypercolour stage at the Walled Garden, another outstanding venue that is situated in the garden behind the manor house. It has a secret garden feel to it, as you pass under the old brick walls, through the low hanging plants, before reaching the stage that is sunk into the garden with a terraced grass area behind it. Kate Miller was playing here and was one of my surprise highlight sets of the weekend, a diverse blend of electronic music summed up by the classic dubstep anthem ‘Night’ by Benga & Coki. The legend that is Andrew Weatherall closed out the night, taking the crowd on a journey and telling a story through a progressive nature that only someone with such knowledge in the game can.
Saturday fast came round and the daytime hours were again spent with some down time in the open areas of the festival. Some amazing live music featured on The Lawn all weekend such as the stripped back meditative rhythms from the Cuban Iranian group Ariwo and uplifting worldly inspired melodies of Africane 808. This was the perfect tonic after a night of heavy raving. The night held some of the most anticipated sets of the weekend with Half Baked in Ricky’s Disco, featuring Zip and Margaret Dygas headlining and playing for a combined 7 hours. Ricky’s Disco was a great tent and felt like one of the most intimate, spherical in shape, with a large disco ball and hanging flowers. The vibe inside was probably the standout of the weekend for Margaret Dygas. She played an awe inspiring set, with long flowing mixes and plenty of unknown and unreleased grooves. A discerning crowd of Perlon and Half Baked supporters loving every moment, particularly big receptions came when she dropped the timeless classic acid tinged beat of ‘The Sun Can’t Compare by Larry Heard, the vocals on everyone’s lips. Zip continued the raucous atmosphere with music like ‘I Have You On My Sound’ by Son of Sound & Jus Ed, a peak time Underground Quality US house stomper. Cheers, whistles and hugs between friends and strangers could be seen and heard all around the tent for the duration. There was even time to catch the final hour of Ben UFO who was constructing a mix at Trigon of music without the borders usually put up by genres.
At many festivals I have been to Sunday can often feel like a downer as people are tired and ready to go home, but this was not the case at Gottwood. With radiant skies still overhead reflecting on the lake, it was easy to get out of bed to grab a Bloody Mary and get back to a spot on the lawn, where Craig Richards was playing the first of two sets, a special dub and reggae set. Wearing a trademark patterned shirt, he demonstrated the diversity of his record collection, pulling out 7 inches like ‘I Man Can’t Live Like this’ by Barry Brown. A pure Sunday afternoon ambience was being created, almost as if you were on a beach, as I sipped a drink with my toes in the lake to cool off. It felt like a real honour to be part of such a special event and it was great to see the owner of the Gottwood site, an older gentleman, walking around the site and enjoying seeing people appreciate the natural charm of the landscape around them. In the afternoon I caught City Fly Records over on the other side of the lake at the open Cpt. Cabeza stage. A label based in my hometown city of Leicester, they played a great disco and house set that even got what looked like the youngest member of the crowd, a small young boy (not sure how he passed the challenge 25 policy!) dancing.
On the final evening I was spoilt for choice with One Records at Ricky’s Disco, Butterside Up at Trigon and The Nothing Special at the Walled Garden. Fortunately due to the long set times, another great feature of the festival, I managed to catch a bit of everything. One Records had John Dimas, Voigtmann and label owners Adam Shelton b2b Subb-an playing their brand of always high quality house and techno, aimed squarely at the dance floor and with rolling beats aplenty. Over at the Trigon it was a slightly different affair to the daytime flavours, as Nicolas Lutz went b2b with Binh. Another highlight of the weekend, the pair made their way through a devastating set of some of their cosmic electro, spacey house and garage tinged minimal tracks on vinyl, from their respective My Own Jupiter and Time Passages labels. This included the forthcoming ‘Tschuss’ by Draculas Lutz & Omar. The Trigon at its best underneath the dark red lasers and smoke cannons, with the crowd going for it and using every single last drop of resource in their limbs. The anthemic reach for the sky ‘Atmosphere’ by Luca Lozano came out the stacks and provided another boost. Sonja Moonear maintained the high intensity, producing another all vinyl masterclass of house and techno.
To close out the weekend it only felt right to catch the end of Craig Richards hosting The Nothing Special all night at The Walled Garden. A far cry from his earlier set, this time he was in the midst of a high octane mix of techno and electro. A DJ that is arguably one of the most experienced in underground music, with his long running residency at fabriclondon, where he has played before so many names. He crafts together mixes that include multiple genres and records that you may never have stumbled upon before.
Also painting abstract art outside of DJing (some may be fascinated by his label artwork) his expression through music is always mesmerising to watch and the tent was a carnival of warm emotion as a chant of DJ Otzi’s ‘Hey Baby’ rang out on top of the serious music, bringing a smile to Craig’s face. As the last track was played and I made my way back to the campsite, I was immediately thinking of when this enchanting, all-encompassing musical and arts experience could be absorbed in again. My mind was on Houghton, Gottwood’s sister festival, curated by Craig himself and where many of the people I had spoken to over the weekend would be heading to next. Four days had taken place where we were blessed with outstanding weather, an extraordinary location and you become part of a community brought together for the love of great music, the Gottwood family as it is described. You return with new friends, inspirations, favourite artists and a yearning to taste what is a truly unique environment once again.
Words by Tom Warner
Pictures by Here & Now
- Published on Thursday, 03 May 2018 10:34
Hot on the heels of his appearance at Eagervision on May 11th, Javier Carballo flies back to the Canaries to celebrate the 11th anniversary of his and partner-in-crime Berna’s Underyourseat party. The party’s a staple of the island’s nightlife, and going stronger than ever with the recent launch of the in-house label to celebrate the 10-years mark. The first EP was provided by Javier himself with Lowwaxx, and encompassed the broad range of the party, with four enchanting groovers of dub and minimal allegiances.
At such a good time for Underyourseat, no doubt Javier and Berna will be in the mood to celebrate. Both are proponents of a stream-lined and hypnotic sound, that carries the crowd seamlessly into the night up to those wee hours of the morning — sunglasses on, head-bobbing to the tunneling grooves til the sun is well up. There’s probably no better way to enjoy it than catching them in their home turf. After 11 years of inviting over the best names in minimal, from Onur Özer to Cabanne and Raresh, there’s a reason they’re now the ones headlining events across Europe.
For this special occasion, they’ve invited a good friend of ours, who we interviewed back in December: Traumer. Since he steered his alias into a more micro/minimal direction, here at MEOKO we can’t get enough of the Frenchman’s drum-heavy rollers. And in that regard, we’ve been treated: even more productive than usual, Romain is already four releases in since the beginning of the year, including one on his ever-special GETTRAUM label. A very special guest for a very special occasion.
So there you go: on May 12th, it’s in the Canaries that the good things are, so it seems. you can already book your tickets here. See you there at the front-left speakers — after-party on the beach.
Words by Pierre-Alexis Chauvin