The recent Easter long weekend seemed to be stuffed with too much, music-wise, in Sydney. So attending just one party, on the last day, meant taking a punt that quality would beat quantity. That's how it turned out, though, because promoters Subsonic managed to wring excess goodness from an eclectic range of DJs across two rooms at the revived Abercrombie Hotel with a Monday evening party. Not daring to brave the full 12-hour marathon, I sensibly arrived just before 5 PM to find the sparsely populated inside area pulsing with the near-underwater sounds of local DJ Trinity, travelling somewhere between dub and proggier tech and building smoothly to draw dancers in.
The open-air beer garden upstairs, which was already hopping (with a mix of long weekend veterans and fresher faces) as the late afternoon sun shimmered and a lack of cross ventilation led to the smokiest clubbing experience I've had in years. There, Subsonic residents MSG were knocking out a crunchy, often jacking house set, a little soured by low sound levels. It was an unusually late '90s, US-centric vibe for a party that otherwise cleaved to a less analogue aesthetic. The music down below continued where Trinity had left off, while gradually upping the ante, but soon a different kind of sound emerged upstairs. As the Glitch DJs came on, it was clear they would maintain the intensity but go deeper. With the Funktion Ones apparently readjusted, we were treated to a swirling, melodic and altogether coherent trip, with newer tracks and half-forgotten underground classics seamlessly stitched together.
When Stimming took over with Ableton and a controller before him, the mood was just right. His live set maintained the restrained deepness for which he's known. It was loaded with musicality and subtlety, and when vocals occasionally came through (like his remix of Deadmau5) there was emotion without any annoying bombast. Unfortunately the sound was once again brassy if you weren't willing to brave the crush at the front, and I think he lost some dancers to the rapidfire tech of Defined By Rhythm downstairs. The only small drawback was that, despite the beauty of much of his production, listening to over 90 minutes of the Stimming sound can start to feel like he's working in too constrained a musical space.
Finishing with "Melodica" to an ovation, Stimming made way for Melbourne DJ Volta, who was the other big surprise of the night. With a more brazen style, she kept us rocking until midnight, never letting up on the oomph despite taking things in various directions. It was about as good a closing set as you could hope for. It was only when legs got too tired (or the chilly breeze too much to take) that I ventured downstairs to once again be caressed by the warmer sonics on offer there. All good things come to a conclusion, though, and on leaving at midnight I felt satisfied I'd ventured into something pretty special.