Isn’t it nice to be pleasantly surprised every now and then? Those were my thoughts as I walked away from downtown Shinsaibashi after witnessing Dominik Eulberg.
Eulberg had played the monstrous Ageha club in Tokyo the night previous, before making his way west to Japan’s centre of coolness, Osaka. Now, to be honest, my enthusiasm at seeing Eulberg had been dampened somewhat before hitting the club: I’d heard reports from friends that he had been disappointing at Ageha, playing a lifeless techno set instead of the expected luscious minimal bombs that are usually associated with the man. That fact, coupled with my limited exposure to minimal (and usual distaste for the genre) did not bode well for the evening. But I’m happy to say that I was more than pleased with how the night unfolded.
I arrived late, at around 12.30am, to the doors of one of the newest (if not, the newest) club in Osaka, Clappers. Located in Shinsaibashi, the grimy, graffiti-clad centre of young Osaka, it is a great little venue. Venturing down the stairs of the basement nightclub, I was glad to see the place rammed to capacity. The warm-up DJ was bleeping out some deep abstract sounds, which didn’t seem to deter the crowd at all. After battling to the bar and getting an Asahi, I pushed to the front just in time to see the big blonde German get behind the decks and peruse through his CD wallet. Within five minutes he was ready to roll.
He began with an off-centre percussive melody that slowly moved into a beat. I don’t know the name of the track, but it was the same track that he started with on his ‘Best Of Ibiza 2006’ mix @ Dance Department from the month previous. He carried this percussive groove for a little while, but it didn’t take long for him to bring the tempo up with some heavy thumping bass. While the tweeks and bleeps associated with minimal were still there, the heavy bass that Eulberg was dropping had me second-guessing just what minimal music is. Having never heard the genre on a club system before, I was expecting something a little subtler, but the music this night was thumping. If I was forced to pigeonhole the style of music I was hearing, it leant more towards techno than minimal.
His set rolled along energetically. While I heard a few crashed beats early on, they were only slightly out of time, and corrected quickly. No one noticed anyway, and only a dickhead would even bother to acknowledge it. “So I noticed Dominik Eulberg crashed a couple of beats the other night in Osaka…” Anyway, the crowd reacted nicely to 2000 and One’s ‘Freak That’, but the already excited dancefloor went absolutely nuts at the two hour mark when Eulberg dropped the classic Vitalic ‘La Rock 01’, with punters storming the small stage in front of the decks and generally causing a ruckus. With the energy from ‘La Rock’ taking hold, Eulberg kept it going, culminating with the Ibiza stormer from this summer, Gabriel Ananda’s ‘Doppelwhipper.’ The floor stayed full through the last thirty minutes – my trainspotting skills are terrible but I possibly recall him playing his own remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘Dinamo’ as well as Stephan Bodzin’s ‘Kerosene’, but don’t quote me on that. When the European lad finally gave up the decks to the closing DJ, the exhausted crowd cheered. He gave a modest wave and wandered backstage.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear Eulberg in action. Having low expectations, then being blown away by a performer is a great feeling. The club soundsystem was crisp. The crowd were friendly and enthusiastic. The dancefloor was completely full all night. And Eulberg was excellent. His progression and track selection was solid, with hardly a dull moment to make your way to the bar for a well-deserved beer. Before this night, I had rarely experienced a good minimal party. I’m happy to say that this has altered my perception of the genre, and I guess there is no greater compliment to bestow a DJ. Huge thanks to the promoters and the DJs, I hope you can continue to push the music you love to the Osaka faithful.