Thursday (Photo Gallery)
Having missed Vladislav Delay’s opening ceremony on Tuesday, we arrive at the impressively majestic Fiat factory buildings on Thursday evening for an invite-only warm-up. Featuring Stefan Goldmann, unannounced guest Khan, and most interestingly, Mika Vainio (one half of Finnish abstract minimalists Pan Sonic, and the identity behind the legendary Ø records on Sahko), it’s an intriguing selection of acts. Turning up just as Vainio starts, we’re immediately taken aback by the size of the place – easily capable of holding 2000 – relative to the thin sound system, and the seemingly thin turnout. Sadly but not surprisingly, Vainio’s DJ excellent set of heavy ambience, peppered with reverb-drenched Johnny Cash echoes and fragmented spoken word segments, does little to hold the attention of the gathered few. On a worthy set of speakers, it’s the kind of vast, deeply atmospheric music that would hold you in a state of transfixed awe indefinitely, but here, it just doesn’t seem to connect quite right. Bodies trickle in from the outside smoking area as Stefan Goldmann takes to the decks, creeping into life with the dramatic flourishes of Fairmont’s anthemic ‘Flight Of The Navigator’, which may well turn out to be the record that makes schaffel-beat techno acceptable again. Slipping deftly into straighter 4/4 rhythms, Goldmann neatly transfers his uniquely idiosyncratic production style to his DJing, spinning records that teeter between dynamic dancefloor propulsion and unpredictable sonic headiness. As the haunting choral twists of his acclaimed recent release ‘Lunatic Fringe’ begin their wayward ascent, the crowd loosen up and begin cheering, but we decide to reserve our energy and head back to camp.
Onur Ozer: Didn't indulge in the free CTC medieval feast, we suspect. Photo: Nik Torrens
Friday (Photo Gallery 1, 2)
Following a day spent soaking up the shops and cafes, taking in a vast modern art fair at the Fiat complex, and salivating over the aforementioned sumptuous banquet, we’re ready to hit town for the club-hopping centrepiece of the weekend.
Starting out at the stylised warehouse environs of Jam, we catch the first half of a live set from Argentina’s Seph, whose slamming minimalism quickly fills the floor. Like fellow South American peers Franco Cinelli, Jorge Savoretti and Violett, his sound marries overarching techiness with sleek, bumping grooves, deftly interspersing oodles of slinky movement in among the stark, sharp beats.
Suitably impressed, we jump in a cab headed to Spazio to check out Sasu Ripatti’s second CTC performance, this time under his techno-orientated Uusitalo guise. It’s a strange little venue, with lurid purple wallpaper, Russ Meyer posters and a shabby, scout-hut-turned-goth feel. Evidently, it isn’t the nightspot of choice for many locals either, given that there are about twenty people in the club when Ripatti begins. Undeterred, he throws himself into a set consisting mainly of tweaked edits from his recent ‘Karhunainen’ LP, and musically, it’s as brilliant as ever. The same can’t quite be said of [email protected], the following act, whose wacky glasses, theatrical posturing and crappy gameboy techno seems akin to following a David Lynch film with a Farrelly brothers comedy. Already, time feels like it’s running out, and faced with the choice between hometown hero Mauro Picotto, a Green Velvet wi-fi broadcast from Barcelona’s loft, and Digitalism’s disco-pogo-power, we decide to hedge our bets and return to the minimal delights of Jam.
The party’s going off Turin-style when we get back, as Vakant’s Onur Özer finishes his set with a blend of album highlight ‘Terpsichorean Echoes’ and ‘Halikarnas’, his rocking contribution to this year’s Cocoon compilation. Next up is micro-hero Akufen, whose reputation as a DJ seems to be increasing of late. Throwing together hot newies like Ernesto Ferrer’s ‘The Last Shooter’ with classic Maurizio dub-ness, he puts on a solidly groovesome show. Meanwhile, the highlight of the night – and possibly the festival - comes from Barcelona’s Undo, known for his hyper-melodic techno with Vicknoise on Factor City. Discarding Akufen’s subtler tendencies from the outset, he goes for the jugular with a perfectly mixed selection of loud, tight, no-nonsense stormers, peaking with SuperMayer’s monstrous ‘Two Of Us’. The more hardcore elements of the RA team head on for after-party fun, while those of us with a weaker constitution call it a night with warm, hazy memories of a night in Torino drifting in and out of focus.
Man in Black: Troy Pierce spins it dark at Club to Club. Photo: Nik Torrens
Saturday (Photo Gallery 1, 2)
Saturday is conference day, and we blearily sit through earnest lectures on various production and industry issues, punctuated by a mesmerising ambient performance from William Basinski. A few espressos later, though, and we’re heading back to the Fiat complex once again, this time for the Club To Club closing finale, a 5000-capacity affair featuring the ‘nu-mnml’ vs ‘proper-minimal’ combo of Troy Pierce and Jeff Mills. The former is pacier than usual, but maintains his penchant for playing records made by his friends that probably aren’t out until about 2009. It’s no mean feat to take control of a room this size with spooked-out, stripped down beats, but Troy’s sinister lurches soon tease out cheers of approval from the crowd, building to a deafening roar when Jeff Mills takes to the stage. Many techno acolytes from the mid-90s grumble that today’s Jeff Mills, powerful as his presence may still be, is not a patch on the demonic ferocity of his heyday. And watching his dexterous hands casually slipping CDs in and out of their wallet (in the old days, he simply threw used records over his shoulder), it’s hard not to feel nostalgic for a time when Detroit techno really did sound like the future. We’re tempted to see where he goes, but the dual problems posed by an early flight and a closed bar (the people of Torino clearly don’t need alcohol to keep going way after the 2am alcohol license) see us bidding arrivederci to Club 2 Club as Mills embarks on his trademarked 909 jam.
As we leave the endless arches of the former Fiat factory for the last time, I imagine the thousands of workers who passed through its ornate gates over the years, welding and assembling various car parts in an infinite assembly line, working in harmony with the machines that would eventually steal their livelihoods. This weekend, the building hosted a different kind of man-machine symbiosis, but one thing is clear – the people of Torino are eager, perhaps desperate, to present their beautiful, friendly, cultured city to the rest of the world. With Club To Club’s well-deserved success growing exponentially each year, it surely won’t be long before the rest of the world accepts the invitation.
Club to Club: Put your hands up for Turino, a lovely city. Photo: Nik Torrens