Bankhead who opened the night at Unit, back in Japan for what was, by his own reckoning, the 13th time. Perhaps best known for his iconic graphic design work for James Lavelle's Mo Wax label, Bankhead has clearly been an important influence for Cav Empt. Both of his record labels—The Trilogy Tapes and Hinge Finger—have become increasingly crucial fixtures within the UK club scene, pairing striking visual aesthetics with an equally idiosyncratic taste in music. It was the latter that featured heavily during his DJ set, an eclectic selection that spanned everything from old school rave to dub.
DJ Nobu, who followed Bankhead, is by no means a stranger to Unit. The club is, after all, currently the base for his regular Future Terror event. But seeing Nobu play at a more conventional peak-time hour (2 AM, in this case) is rare—he's more known for his marathon late-night sets. As a result, his performance was a bouncier, more upbeat affair than usual, even working in patches of UK funky-style percussion.
Joy Orbison took over soon after. After starting slowly with several firm techno selections, he began incorporating African-influenced rhythms, including Roman Flugel's "Sliced Africa" and Jackson Lee's "Sumba Togola" (whose productions Joy Orbison deployed so effectively in his Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 last year). Roughly an hour in, he started to traverse the mutant, bass-heavy strands of UK techno with which he is most closely associated, spinning spiky cuts by Objekt and Pearson Sound, as well as a 4/4 mix of his anthem "Sicko Cell." This last one caused one of the most unusual sing-alongs you're ever likely to hear on a Japanese dance floor.
The night ended with Bankhead rejoining Joy Orbison on the decks for an extended back-to-back session, as the two paid tribute to club culture's early days with a selection of classic Chicago house cuts. Joy Orbison might be one of this generation's most talented artists, but he has respect for tradition and the innovators of the past—not at all dissimilar from Cav Empt's own modus operandi.