Tilburg forest, Netherlands
Lovers of programmed sound congregated in the woodlands of Tilburg for 12 hours and six stages, each full to the brim with Motor City Drum Ensemble, Nina Kraviz, The Black Madonna and Marcel Dettmann.
The Parking Lot Stage at Draaimolen – the word means ‘carousel’ – was a square of concrete, hugged by towering forest, with a gigantic oblong LED screen, reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, for its centrepiece. At 2pm, the space was relatively vacant, highlighting the amount of room that’d be available to the tech-heads who’d later flock here. Berlin local Somewhen warmed the space up with thumping rhythms – the natural acoustics were excellent – clearly not letting the relatively early slot dictate how heavy he should go.
The most popular stage was easily Strange Love. Curated by national hero Job Jobse, this lush 360-degree wonderland was a sight to behold. Nestled amongst the flora, the cylindrical booth created a surreal feeling on first arrival. In the early afternoon, Amsterdam whizz Job Sifre coated the spot fires of conversation with calm balearic tones. Fast-forward an hour or so and the place turned to bedlam with Job Jobse at the helm. The crowd had quickly quadrupled, and shards of sunlight pierced the canopy as he dropped X-Marks the Pedwalk’s 1994 tune Mirthless Knick Knack to raucous cheers. Later, we were blessed with a surprise back-to-back between Ben UFO and Nina Kraviz, a pairing which had never before taken place.
On the other side of town was a cosy alcove draped by a yellow sail. The space had an amphitheatre feel, with a section of the sphere filled by a raised seating area, but when Joe Ellis, trading tracks with Leif, placed the needle on DJ OK’s Private Message, standing felt much more appropriate.
At about 4pm, the timber floor of the Main Stage was half full with Berlin’s Perel delivering arpeggiated rhythms. Call Super followed, and didn’t disappoint, gliding through a delicious cocktail of chugging house and at times tribal rhythms. His own reaction to playing Deep Dish’s The Future of the Future (Stay Gold) was priceless.
After catching Heleen Blanken’s dark visual and techno combinations at The Chapel, we settled in for Motor City Drum Ensemble at the Main Stage, just in time for dusky magic hour. Here, the veteran DJ played a flurry of jubilant records, perhaps none better than Roy Davis Jr’s edit of Étienne de Crécy’s Prix Choc. It fell to Ben UFO to close things out at Free Rotation, taking the gathered crowd through DnB and breakbeat signing out with Melodies of Love by Pink Rhythm. Draaimolen was, as its name suggests, a colourful and wild ride.