On approaching the entrance at its debut event in Morocco this year, it looked as though Oasis had potential to be the new paradise destination for dance music fans we’d hoped for.
Found in the outskirts of Marrakech and at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, attendees entered the festival through the tall gates of Fellah Hotel, a modernised version of the classic Moroccan riad. With the gentle thud and patter of a funktion one in the distance, they then made their way through Fellah’s winding paths, protruded by cacti that are under-lit by a psychedelic fluorescence. The spiky silhouettes evoked the look of an Acid Western – which seems entirely appropriate for a festival bringing the party to a new frontier here in Morocco.
Stepping through the hotel reception you arrive at the Desert Oasis Stage, where Crack would play host throughout Sunday. Opening proceedings on Friday, though, was a bouncy DJ Tennis, performing from the DJ booth situated on a patio about two stories high, overlooking the pool. Tennis laid down some thunderous floorfillers such as John Talabot’s remix of Jamie xx’s Loud Places, the track that epitomised his set. The proceeding Agoria and stage headliner Âme continued in a similar vain, with tumultuous main room drops that kept the audience enthralled.
The Bamboo Arena, Oasis’s other stage, is a more enclosed space. Here, the light-touch tech house stylings of Ushaia resident tINI and Panorama Bar regular Cassy, offered up a counterpoint to the boys over on the Desert Oasis. Their music rolled around the overhanging trees, fulfilling a much more intimate party urge.
The following morning, yoga was available in the the Bamboo Arena, which by all accounts was superb. But instead, we embarked on a trip to the Old Medina in the centre of Marrakech. Taking 20 minutes by shuttle bus, it was an easy journey which exemplified the Oasis ideology, one that incorporates their party into the surrounding area of the ancient city.
We arrived back from the Old Medina with just enough time to put on our swimmers and slip into the pool at the Desert Oasis for the vibesman, Axel Boman. The Studio Barnhus co-founder delved in and out of flavours impeccably to see out the hazy sunset, before switching up the sass with HNNY’s reincarnation of Beyonce’s Yonce.
We headed to the Bamboo Arena to refuel on some kofta grill and a slice of Ellen Allien’s set ahead of DJ Harvey. Like a slow cooked tagine, his four hour transgression of Balearic, dream funk and melodic techno would all come together for tonight’s particular journey from the talisman of taste. Opening with beatless soundscapes, Harvey created a replenishing aurora. After a while, this broken-through with a sumptuous lazy drum beat – and we’re hypnotised hereon in. As he swept through the rest of his set, we recognise tracks like Kuniyuki’s remix of Lord of The Isles’ Geek Chic, Rainbow Disco by Prins Thomas and feel good alt-hit of the summer: Renee Running by Dude Energy, that all contribute to a lesson in the art of subtly.
Sunday began in the pool with Kali G and Secret 47: the two DJs from Rabat who kicked-off Crack’s take-over of the Oasis Desert stage with a fusion of berber music and techno before handing the poolside soundtrack duties to Pardon My French and Will Saul. Gerd Janson played to the dispersing sun as Axel did the previous day, unleashing a utopian two hours with the ever poignant Still Going Theme resonating around the desert air.
With Derrick Carter playing a typically sleek set over Desert Oasis, it was Pachanga Boys that saw us out. With their blend of euphoric earthy textures, we ended our weekend of debauched luxury. Overall, Oasis had achieved what so many fail to pin down, by crafting a truly relaxing dance music festival. For those looking for the sun soaked, laid-back festival experience, it comes highly, highly recommended.