Cable, London | November 17th
The staff at Cable certainly know how to treat their reviewers well. After a late start (‘technical difficulties’), we were handed several drink tokens, ushered to the bar, told to enjoy ourselves and directed towards the VIP area. We seized the opportunity, indulging ourselves in the short bar queues and comfy seating. But we weren’t there to glower superciliously at the hoi polloi below – no, we were there to see Robert Hood, Detroit hero and founding member of the legendary Underground Resistance label and collective.
Hood wasn’t on until 4am so we had plenty of time to explore. After wandering around we caught the second hour of Colony’s residency in room two. They played a fairly melodic set of techno, plus a lot of DJ tools to tie everything together. A particular highlight was Wire Tap by The 65D Mavericks, a funky and emotive Detroit electro-esque roller that served as a lilting counterpoint to the pounding techno that was gradually building up in room one. Room one is much larger and looks like many of warehouse spaces in East London. But unlike the majority of those venues, it has decent sound. Two huge fanned-out speaker stacks hang from the (extremely high) ceiling, much like the kind seen at outdoor festivals, and blanket the room with an impressive range. The stacks were supported by a bank of subwoofers at least 4 metres wide, adding up to an enveloping sound that few clubs achieve.
We caught most of James Ruskin and Mark Broom’s set, which was a mix of forward-thinking techno and a more familiar Detroit repertoire. But this was only so much a ‘warm up’ before Hood came on. He begun with a live set. Laptop and midi machines blinked away futuristically while a few bashed-looking analogue boxes pounded out the rhythms. It sounded like mostly new material; 909-heavy, some filtering and occasionally a melody. But this was classic ‘minimal’ Robert Hood in the sense of stripping out the unnecessary. Hood seemed to take himself pretty seriously, only occasionally looking at the crowd, never once going in for the ‘I-am-the-resurrection-so-raise-your-hands’ antics of Tiesto and co.
After the live set came the DJ set. We got a lot more variation, with a few older techno tracks getting their first airing in years (plenty of obscure UR material, basically), and even some vocals via Hood’s alias Floorplan. By this time, though, we were feeling tired and taxi-dependent. Cable’s notorious Jaded after-party was just kicking-off in room two and a few hardy souls wandered over to mix with the Fabric overspill and London’s techno tourists. Drink tokens spent, legs shaky and judgement poor, we left Hood to keep those kids dancing for however long into Sunday morning. At this point we left tired but satisfied in the knowledge that some legends do deliver on their reputations.
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Words: Robert Bates