Aphex Twin closes the first day of this celebration of underground electronica and hip-hop...
Urban beats-culture is Dedbeat’s speciality, and although this extends to skateboard ramps and copious Playstation 2s dotted about the site, there’s no doubt that, like the original Northern Soul weekenders that inspired it, getting fucked-up and lost in music is still most punters’ [I]true[/I] focus.
Atmosphere is key. While the main ‘Beat-Ranks’ room is sparsely populated at 9pm, P-Brothers mixing old and new skool breaks for hip-hop headz checking out record and tee-shirt stalls, the cosier ‘Pulse Ranks’ room is already teeming with a messier crowd. This room belongs to the Rephlex Disco Assault System tonight, and that label’s mashed, anything-goes philosophy is borne out by DJ sets from Mike Dred, Depth Charge and DMX Krew. Playing Chaka Khan next to drill’n’bass, abstrakt techno, and Art Of Noise, the perverse playlist is all about the context, baybee.
Back to the ‘Beat-Ranks’, stopping only to clock a sinister lone figure standing amongst the kiddies’ playground, the night’s first live attraction limber up for action. And Red Snapper are, typically, awesome, an uncharacteristically eclectic act fusing the best elements of the pointedly junglist and hip-hop acts that surround them on the bill. They’ve got the live-dance thang down pat too, double-bassist Ali Friend firing low-frequency fuzz that’s as funk-drenched as Isaac Hayes swimming in BBQ sauce.
Peshay satisfies with similarly bullseye precision. Intelligent drum’n’bass? Peshay is ‘knows how to push all the buttons’-smart, rather than ‘could write a 5,000 word thesis on quantum physics’-smart, pumping a fearsomely danceable glut of brainwreck breakbeats.
Ugly Duckling patently aren’t fans, but when you re-animate old skool hip-hop to cut a funkier jib than even J5’s retro-rap, you’re allowed the odd slip-up. The easy-going humour and sneaker-animating grooves of ‘Eye On the Gold Chain’ suggest Andy Cooper, Dizzy Dustin and DJ Einstein are regular shoppers at Paul’s Boutique, while the funny, faultless ‘A Little Samba’ should send ’em to mega-stardom by the summer’s end.
But wipe that smile off your face… Witching-time is upon us, as Dedbeat Friday’s most anticipated guest steps up to the decks. Richard James, the Aphex Twin hisself, Rephlex-incarnate, spinning a set of Lionel Richie hits and thrash-metal classics, all rendered unlistenable and nigh unbearable by frequency-modulators rendering the smoothest soul swish and the gruffest metallic-riff equally offensive.
Lush it most certainly isn’t, though that doesn’t stop the Aphex-faithful plugging into this jagged mess for all the dumb-clever thrills it provides, before staggering, shellshocked, into a messy purple dawn. That was just for starters, what’s up next?