Cable, London | August 28th
Crack headed to London’s cavernous Cable to spend the night in the company of one of techno’s bona fide legends. The initial sensorial experience was somewhat overwhelming: dry ice billowed and wavered over the crowd, the lights were pitched down low, the bass – as bass does – sent rippling vibrations up our trouser leg, deep to the core. Everything felt exciting, charged and anticipatory.
When you see someone like Jeff Mills DJing, it’s like seeing a recently retired world-class footballer playing in a testimonial or seeing a just-sold-for-absurd-amounts painting in a gallery – you’re left unsure as to whether you’re witnessing something genuinely transcendental and incredible, or you’re just wowed by the history of the person/thing you’re seeing in the flesh. The crowd at Cable, though happy enough to dance their way through James Ruskin’s hard, loopy warm-up set, were clearly more excited for the arrival of the Detroit master. When Mills’ oddly angular face poked its head above the decks it was met with applause long before he actually put his headphones on and cued up a record and we got a taste of just how hard the ride he was going to take us on was going to be. The place erupted in Dionysian ecstasy: strobes slowed time down as Mills sped his kick drum – never before has Crack heard a percussive thud sound so huge, so vital, so important – sweat started to drip and shirts came off.
Armed with a stack of fast, deep techno and a Roland 909, he served up a set of blistering intensity, the kind of musical experience that the slightest modulation of a hi-hat hiss, or the clarity of a hand-clap’s crispness changing ever-so-slightly sends you into a state of rapture. The providence of these records didn’t matter, the labels they came out on (if they ever came out) were irrelevant, it didn’t matter that aside from a brief snatch of what could have been Carl Craig’s Brainfreeze (but almost certainly wasn’t) we’d never heard these songs before. It didn’t matter that melody was a no go zone for Jeff Mills, it didn’t matter that at points we stopped dancing. None of this mattered because for hour after hour, Jeff Mills reminded us of the vitality of techno, of its ferocious potential, of its forcefulness, and its perfect synthesis of man and machine.
We left sweat-soaked and exhausted, wandering into the night wondering why we don’t make this kind of a thing a regular Saturday night affair.
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Words: Josh Baines