As a multitude of visitors converged on Dublin hoping to catch the 6-Nations rugby contest, Saturday February 4th had all the signs of being another great night out. Joining the packed out hotels and hostels injecting some energy into the Irish capital, were the city's record shops, which also seemed to be buzzing with liveliness, and why not? Over at the city's entertainment focal point, the Temple Bar, the double-pronged Electric Shock 2 line-up of Ellen Allien and Alexander Robotnick had caught the attention of most electronic bods, and not forgetting local techno DJ, Francois, who was also celebrating his 40th birthday (Congrats!) nearby.
I decided to make my way over to the Temple Bar early on, finding Dublin's Barry Donovan throwing down some grooves. Giving a great intro to the night he put together an assortment of Italo house/disco tunes with fluid mixing and one eye kept firmly on the dance floor. The dark little grooves interspersed with flittering, light synths on Squadra Blanco's 'The Night Must Fall' was an early highlight in Donovan's set, which at times had an almost kitsch eighties feel. This was especially evident when he dropped the Alden Tyrell remix of Klapto's 'Mr.Game' on Radius, a label which releases remixes of classic Italo Disco by high-profile producers.
The deep, bassy, undercurrents continued a little longer before Donovan threw in some of his current faves; Todd Terje's 'Itallion Stallion', a big record with electro/house DJs on the Full Pupp label and Legowelt's 'Autobahn Disco', which he finished up his set on.
Not too long after midnight, Alexander Robotnick took to the stage, promptly grabbing the mic to funk it up with some Italian rapping. The human touch always seems to strike up rapport with the audience and this time was no different as Robotnick made his presence immediately felt. Considered the Godfather of Italo Disco, Robotnick has also produced ambient, world music and even film soundtracks, first coming to prominence under his Robotnick alias with the track 'Problemes d'amour' in 1983.
Amazingly, Robotnick only started DJing in 2003 with a laptop, citing a dislike for vinyl as his excuse for not doing it beforehand. Using the Ableton Live software, Prophet 5 as a plug-in-synth and his keyboard as a Midi control to adjust the filter and resonance, Robotnick drew on many of his musical influences from the 60s right up to the present. Giving us a kaleidoscopic insight into the weird and wonderful world of electronica, diversity was omnipresent in his set tonight.
The style-conscious crowd lapped up the Robotnick grooves and party antics; his deft touch finding all the right places. His on-stage dance moves reminded me of David Byrne circa Talking Heads. This throwback to the eighties was never more evident than on David Caretta's 'Lovely Boy' as torsos all around the venue joined him in exhibiting some funky moves . The man's youthful exhuberance and showmanship certainly rubbed off on the people; his freaky-disco vibe going down well.
Building basslines -- funky-yet-futuristic -- were juxtaposed with catchy, almost poppy sounds, Robotnick showing off his sense of humour with some Beastie Boys samples. Delivering morphing twisted techno, bleeping do-da-doo noises and rhythmic shuffles Robotnick's non-conformist and unpredictable attitude to musical performance left the crowd with no doubt that this was a man who understands his music, before he finished up with Telex's 'Moscow Disco'
The expectation in the air for one of techno's first ladies, Ellen Allien almost seemed tangible by the time her spacecraft found its way to the Temple Bar at 1:45. Twitchy, minimal movers soon got us in motion as Allien began creating grittiness and variance in the rhythm, dropping out the low-end before punching it back in. Gradually working up the tempo, Ellen avoided hamming it up or playing obvious big tracks, choosing seductive, dreamy numbers to wash over our heads instead.
Easing the throttle forward with her own 'Magma', she moved into heads-down, serious shit territory as the crowd heaved and got their limbs moving, intrigued by this jaunt into the Allien form of techno. The mystery increased with the addition of a vocal snippet of a track "Take it away from me" as she began showcasing the Bpitch sound; driving, rippling bass alongside lots of hi-end, sliding percussion and stacatto shakes taking the floor by storm.
Allien, who cites her early electronic influences as Grauzone, Nina Hagen and Kraftwerk, has become a leading light on the Berlin techno scene since starting the Bpitch Control parties and the label of the same name in a time when several Berlin clubs were closing down.
At times smooth and building techno, on other occasions contorted acidic whirrs, the stark contrast between the various elements of her somewhat short set (by her standards), was further illustration of the way she kept pushing the sound forward, never staying in the one place for too long. Tracks by Kiki with those melodic touches ensured Allien was very well received by the crowd - in fact almost too well, with one or two individuals getting a little hot and bothered!
As the night drew to a close the crowd by now, were totally enthralled with Allien's set and her elegance and presence behind the decks were duly noted by many. Drawing on many influences from fashion, art and of course music, tonight this Berlinette showed her music can be equally minimal, deep and abrasive, and the turnout by many of her loyal fans in Dublin illustrated the high regard in which she is held.
So once again, a night of quality electronic ramblings with the emphasis on diversity, and judging by the smorgasbord of people who attended, this night must be chalked up as one of the better ones.
Special thanks to the Electric City boys Simon, Giles and Barry.
Thanks also to Maurizio...ciao und auf wiedersehen.