Sam Shepherd bangs it out with his Buchla.
First up was Kirkis, an Australian producer whose 2019 album, Cézanne By Touch, was partly recorded in Shepherd's London studio. Like Shepherd, he also uses a Buchla modular setup. On Saturday, he fired out zany synth noises beneath strobes and white spotlights. Even without beats, the mood was intense; when the first drums burst through, fast and broken, things turned ravey. Most people stayed seated, perhaps conserving energy for what was gearing up to be a lively headline performance.
Shepherd didn't disappoint. Pumping almost from the start, this was a peak-time show, a career-spanning performance for anyone who's ever loved his club tunes. It carried all the dramatic arcs and tension-building tricks of a DJ set. As the first, wall-rattling notes sounded, the front half of the room leapt up. The first semblance of a pulse was only light snares, though within 30 minutes, bangers like "Ratio" and "Nuits Sonores" boomed from the system. During these tracks, the flame-blue visuals, powered by Barcelona-based studio Hamill Industries, flew into a tizz, all geometric shapes with frayed edges and satisfying symmetry. As they whizzed past, my brain registered tangled wires, fidget spinners and deconstructed Slinkys.
Crush, Shepherd's recent, often gentle second album, didn't anchor the set so much as wander in and out. "Bias," one of my favourites, came late, its long, sombre warble gradually unfurling into 150 BPM drum & bass, much to the relish of the crowd. By this point, the room had been leaking punters for a while as people hurried to make the last tram. Ten minutes later, in a fit of squeals, it was all over. Nearly everyone was on their feet.
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