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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

WHP: CURATED BY JAMIE XX & JON HOPKINS


When we penned our review of WHP last year, we were mentally preparing ourselves for a year without pilgrimage to one of our favourite events of the UK music calendar; but you know what they say about the best laid plans… so we shouldered our packs, made for the North once again and, on the 12th of December, made our long due return to Store Street.

A collaborative effort between Jamie XX and Jon Hopkins, event signified the end of a 2014 thick with activity for both artists. For Hopkins this has involved relentlessly touring his live show around the world off the back of his 2013 album, Immunity, alongside a blog-breaking BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and the recent release of his ambient, meditative edits EP; Asleep Versions. The combination of these successes has propelled him to electronic demi-god status, which earned him an astounding roar from the crowd as he was thrust on stage. The crowd’s expectations were no doubt satisfied. Layered on top of his earth-shattering soundscape was a cinematic audio-visual experience utilizing clips of stoic looking astronauts and molecular liquid forms intersected with cuts of Hopkins’ own mind-warping music videos. It was an enthralling experience we hadn’t seen since Nicolas Jaar took hold of the main room back in 2012 with his own live show.



Having to follow an act such as Hopkins would be challenge for any artist, and Jamie XX certainly had his work cut out for him. However he took no time dragging people out of their state of hypnosis, teasing sound bites from his 2014 ode to warehouse culture and undoubtedly one of the year’s best releases; All Under One Roof Raving. What followed was an eclectic blend sweeping from techno to old school garage and swaying from the stomping highs of ‘Randomer – Bring’ to the ambient lows of his own remix for ‘Four Tet – Lion’.

Anyone starting to lag by 03:30 would find no refuge as Modeselektor took to the stage. Whilst lacking the cerebral depth of the previous acts, their set turbo-injected the crowd with the jump-up electro, trap and techno they have come to epitomize. By the time their classic ‘Evil Twin’ dropped, it was a full-scale eruption, mirroring their previous WHP show as a live act in 2013.

On the whole this WHP is up there as one of the best we have witnessed; a clear sign that the brand hasn’t lost any of the magic that made it so special all those years ago. The limited ticket numbers and original venue made for a less humid, more appropriately populated event, allowing everyone to focus on what really matters, enjoying some of the best raving there is to be had in the UK. It was a perfect homecoming that leaves us only waiting to see what the WHP team does next. Bring on 2015. 

Words by David March & Dan Cave // Photos by Gary Brown




5 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM ATTENDING

SPACE IS NOISE
Even music journalists, a sub-species of human so incurably addicted to their own tunneled searches into the annals of musical obscurity for zeitgeist changing releases and previously missed harbingers of new creative ages, may not return to the title of Nicholas Jaar’s critically acclaimed 2011 LP ‘Space is Noise’ and herald it as an unrealized prognosticate of what was to come for analog electronic music. Yet Friday’s performances of Jon Hopkins and Jamie XX suggest a gently fomenting vogue for impact silence in dance music. Hopkins’ and XX’s sets were demarcated by a series of disquieting voids of nothingness that would have had Harold Pinter beaming with pride. XX’s notoriety for staccato calypso and spacious electronic output and Hopkins’ ability to hew an intense soundscape with thunderous peaks of musical activity matched by chasms of silence resulted in a night curated for the introspective raver.


HOPKINS: DANCE MUSIC'S RACONTEUR?

Hopkins past employment scoring for cinema was wielded inside WHP with awesome result. Absorbing re-workings of his more recognised music videos were interspersed with original video-art and married an almost oppressive light show of pallid purples, blues, whites - providing the visual backing to Hopkins’ musically narrative, which at times, felt like the unravelling of a tangible story. Could be all the drugs though.

IS 5AM TOO EARLY?

If this was a night dedicated solely to more intensive dance musics, 5am would be a suitable time to stop the revelry before bewildered and wired reprobates met the full force of a Saturday early lunchtime Piccadilly rush - with neither party able to fully understand or communicate with the other. However, Modeselektor aside, the music was largely atmospheric and progressive and could have segued seamlessly into the morning of the next day or a very mellow after party. Curiously, WHP were not advertising for their in-house after party ‘Afterlife’ on this night. Thus, could they have adopted a different license for their techno/progressive nights and mimic the opening/closing times of European counterparts?

MODESELEKTOR DO AS MODESELEKTOR DO

It’s 3am. Jamie XX and Hopkins have just played over 3 hours of immersive, introspective, progressive ‘techno’. Punters are walking around in quasi-emotional dazes wondering about their place in the Universe and if it’s possible to travel through the black hole at the bottom of the portaloo. What should you play? Hyper abrasive, fist-pumping techno of course! The beauty of Modeselektor is that do what they do with such passion and skill that this set didnt seem out of place - re-energising the entire warehouse to a throbbing crescendo of sweaty, happy appreciation.

WILL TECHNO BE THE UK'S NEWEST REGURGITATED & REVITALISED HOT UNDERGROUND MUSICAL TREND?

With many culture critics calling last summer the moment of ‘peak-house’, the musical avant-garde will be searching for a new genre to attach themselves too. The techno scene has always maintained a healthy underground following. Over the last few years it has also experienced massive re-energisation in France, Japan and Germany. And with such grandstand promoters like WHP regularly booking nights with a techno-centric focus, coupled with producers such as Hopkins, Modeselektor, XX, Vynehall and Talabot showcasing fresh directions for techno to experiment within - I fully expect the sound to explode again and be appropriated by mainstream tastemakers over the coming 18 months.