RA teams up with the venue leading the charge in Tbilisi's extraordinary club scene.
RA's In Residence series is celebrating club culture by throwing a month of parties at 12 of the world's best clubs. Clubs are the beating heart of dance music, and these are the venues that keep their local scenes thriving. Week-in, week-out, they open their doors to play the music we love.
As we settle in for a month at each of the clubs, we'll be running features that, through a combination of different media, aim to provide lasting documents of these iconic spaces.
The final stop in the series is at one of the newest clubs to slip onto our radar: Bassiani. Located in the basement of the Dinamo Arena football stadium, Bassiani is the leading light in Tbilisi's club scene, which many say is one of the best in the world right now. It's not hard to understand its appeal: the sound is excellent, the atmosphere awe-inducing, the bookings unapologetically heady (Northern Electronics, The Bunker New York and Giegling are a few of the club's favorites) and the parties heroically long, with headliners often playing for eight hours or more.
This would be extraordinary anywhere, but it's especially so in Tbilisi, a city isolated from the rest of Europe's music scene, in a country still recovering from the war and poverty of the post-Soviet era. Average incomes hover around 200 Euro per month, and cruel drug laws send young people to prison for trace amounts of low-level substances. These circumstances would quash most club scenes, but here it only gives things more oomph. The social activist Paata Sabelashvili has said that, "In Georgia, raving is a political act," and Bassiani happily embodies this credo, fighting the country's drug laws and challenging its social prejudices. For many people, it's much more than a club: it's a symbol of a new era in Tbilisi.
Feb 3 RA In Residence, Bassiani, Tbilisi feat. Sunil Sharpe, Acronym (live), Evigt Morker (live), Zitto, Kvanchi, Kancheli
Feb 10 RA In Residence, Bassiani, Tbilisi feat. Silent Servant, Vatican Shadow (live), Ndrx, HVL, Hamatsuki (live)
Feb 17 RA In Residence, Bassiani, Tbilisi feat. Shackleton (live), Kancheli, Rookas, Jane Fitz, Zurkin
Feb 24 RA In Residence, Bassiani, Tbilisi feat. Joey Anderson b2b DJ Qu, Kvanchi, Huerco S b2b Terekke, HVL
- 01Address2 Akaki Tsereteli Ave, Tbilisi, Georgia
- 02Club opened2014
- 03Dance floors2
- 05Resident DJsHVL, Kancheli, Kvanchi, Nodrex, Zitto, Zesknel, Function
- 06SoundsystemFunktion-One and Void
DJs love playing Bassiani. A lot of this has to do with the atmosphere and the crowd, but for a headliner to still be reaching for records at nine, ten, 11 AM, they need a superior workspace, which is exactly what Bassiani gives them.
"The DJ booth, I think it's one of the best in the world," said the club's sound engineer, Guri Gotsadze. "The monitoring is extremely accurate and translates very well in the front of house." This would explain the kid-in-a-candy-shop vibe you get from DJs in the main booth there, especially when you consider the soundsystem that booth is plugged into: a hulking Funktion-One whose output is as beefy as it is crystalline.
From the beginning, Bassiani sought to set itself apart with its sound. When the club opened, top-of-the-line rigs were rare in Tbilisi. Today, they're the norm, thanks in part to this club—"they set the standard," another local promoter told RA last year. And yet, as with every other aspect of Bassiani, this was something they figured out on their own, without outside help or even much previous experience.
"There is a huge lack of professional sound engineers in Georgia," said Gotsadze. "So instead of finding someone and outsourcing, I decided to take it over."
The club bought their current Funktion-One rig from Blue Box London a year and a half ago. In 2016, they decided to take a different tack with their second space, Horoom, which now boasts a punchy system by Void Acoustics. Both are essential cornerstones of the exceptional experience that makes Bassiani famous.
By bringing international acts to the city week after week, Bassiani helped plug Tbilisi into Europe's music scene. But the sound it's now known for—dark, tunneling, atmospheric techno—is as much a product of its resident DJ as it is the foreigners who fly in to headline. Aside from Function, the Berlin-based techno artist who joined the family last year, Bassiani's residents draw from Tbilisi's ever-expanding community of DJs and producers. In these three mixes, HVL, Kvanchi and Kancheli present the sound of the club that is their main inspiration.
"This mix only contains tracks that have worked well at Bassiani. You'll be able to hear my recent favorites, some classics and couple of my own tunes. I tried to make it as diverse as possible, showing how open-minded and receptive the club has been towards my artistic choices since day one.
I'm grateful to Bassiani crew for trusting me with this job for the past three years. The commitment and the effort that they've been putting into their work is almost unprecedented in any field in Georgia. Also, shout out to Bassiani's dancers and listeners for keeping the scene alive."
"It was a great honour for me to record this mix. I've been involved with Bassiani since the day it opened. It's a truly unique place, not only for local artists but for guests too, and that's why I decided to make a mix only with tracks of the artists who've played at Bassiani. It's only couple months that a new room Horoom was opened, and I think this mix expresses the soul of that floor."
"I was told that I had to record a mix for RA around the same time I had a gig with Ancient Methods. The next evening I went to Bassiani to listen to some new stuff I had for the gig. That's when I recorded a set. Enjoy."