Motor City Drum Ensemble
The Kazimier, Liverpool
German producer Danilo Plessow, aka Motor City Drum Ensemble, is likely to draw a crowd. Androgynous in appearance, perpetual in his understanding of disco and masterful in his control of the dance floor – he created a miniature carnival in The Kazimier at Liverpool based club night Abandon Silence.
Described in The Guardian as a “theatre-cum-club-cum-speakeasy”, the Kazimier is a venue like no other. It looks like it should be part of the set of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge: the balcony, dimly lit with glowing red bulbs is its pièce de résistance as it overlooks the ravers below, making for the perfect panoramic experience. The smoky air and leafy plants add to the 1890s Parisian feeling. Despite its embellished interior, it has some qualities which make you feel like you’re at a mate’s house party… but like a really good one. With two toilets a cubicle, there’s a sense of “intimacy” that stretches as far as the lav. This, paired with the fact that everybody knows everybody makes “The Kaz”, as people call it, a favourite space for music.
The night is relatively young and Church residents Apes & Seb Wildblood are taking care of the garden, or the so-called Rat Alley. Fairy lights hang over the heads of people dancing on every surface they can find, and the cold doesn’t bother anyone when these boys are playing a mixture of bluesy lounge and evocative house – namely Julio Bashmore’s recent track Simple Love.
In the toasty confines of the club, Underground Paris kicks off the night playing endless disco and soul to warm us up, seasoning his set with the odd echoes of sax. Lingering on the buttons as MCDE takes over and spins the wax, the crowd loosens to Tatsuro Yamashita’s Love Talkin’.
And so it begins, the marathon live set from Motor City Drum Ensemble. If Plessow was an adverb he would be “gingerly”. He has an incredible energy – bouncing on his tip-toes from a heavy duty box of vinyls to the decks. But somehow his sound is not erratic, he has an impressive talent for finely-tuned sample work. Spinning disco classics juxtaposed with Sterac’s techno beats from Holland, he invokes a nostalgia for the 80s that we love him for. Between long and lustful drags on his cigarette, MCDE riddles his set with bouts of jazz piano and soulful female vocal samples. A highlight would have to be Emotionally Content (TP’s Emotionally Deep remix) by Kenny Dixon Jr, by which point we are putty in his hands. He follows this up with tribal drum samples and later throws down Venus Dodson’s Shining.
Grabbing at eclectic sounds and genres from all corners of the earth, MCDE takes us on an ever-deepening journey from the 70s to now with the help of a vast vinyl collection. Looking down from the balcony, friends and couples can be seen cavorting together, none of that robotic head nodding that can suck the fun out of so many deep house nights.
As it goes on, the set gets gradually deeper, at one point Plessow sedates the room with a few minutes of slow motion electro and as soon we’ve caught our breath, he’s teasing us back in again. The night comes to an explosive close with his own original material: his upbeat Send a Prayer Pt. 2 is swelling with bass and it feels like the end has come far too soon.
That was Motor City Drum Ensemble: puppeteer of the dance floor. It’s hard not to look back on it and wish that we’d heard more of his scratching and shuffling Raw Cuts series, as if anything sounds good in the Kaz it’s jazzy house. Then again, perhaps it’s what’s missing that makes people come back for more – no one wanted this party to end.