Beyond The Clouds, a new London collaboration between Süd Electronic, BodyHammer and TOTHEBONE, describe their concept as "a series of fantasy house nights featuring line-ups we've dreamed of for years." Arriving at Corsica Studios, I was instantly pleased at the crowd mingling throughout the two dark rooms. Despite the sparse few youngsters, the atmosphere was mature and a fitting reflection of the two prolific headliners we were about to see.
Pépé Bradock's eclectic three hour introduction to his signature deep Chicago house and strong earthy techno was just beginning in the second room. Surprises were at every corner. Dubstep, soul, even jungle and big orchestral strings were courageously manipulated through the faders, causing head-turning moments that left the crowd unsure of what to do with themselves. It was evident from the offset that no continuous four-to-the-floor beat was going to happen tonight, and, at moments, it was experimental to the point of being undanceable. No bad thing—Bradock's intro was interesting, delightfully twisted and a display of musical competence and confidence.
The second half of Bradock's set took a turn. The intimate walls swallowed its experimental beginnings, and spat out sturdy yet slowly evolving techno with an intelligent overlay of synths, transforming the floor into a stomping ground of relief after his teasing build-up. It was the unleashing of the beast that had built within the audience and one very happy dance floor commenced for the remainder. I really dislike the phrase "a journey through music," but on this occasion that's exactly what happened.
Due to the lengthy set times of the headliners, support sets from Lakuti, Joe Hart, Rik Moran and Charlie & Dave TTB didn't get my full attention. What I did hear of Lakuti's set though, was right on par with the headliners. In the main room, Lil' Louis began at 3:00 AM to an already hyped crowd, and held them there; upbeat, moving and captivating. It was a crowd that probably only expected deep Chicago house, but percussion solos with rich drum patterns were squeezed in between heavy techno kicks and warm soul. That's not to say his set wasn't dominated by '90s house, though. When Louis dropped "Club Lonely," as cliche as it may have been, it was what we all secretly wanted to hear. The analogue gruffness of his hit track exposed every layer— from the highs to the bass—and the remainder of his set followed suit.
What was evident throughout this night was a defiance to stick within the box. The ability to drop whatever they chose, from their own productions to Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" into Butch's "No Worries." Throwing down solely old skool house would have been too easy for artists that have spent the best part of 20 years behind the booth. Thankfully, the audience who chose to be at Corsica Studios that night lapped it up, experimental intros and 2010 hits included. I'd say that Beyond The Clouds conveyed their fantasy night exactly as intended.