Shackleton, Kuedo, Konx-om-Pax

Live at Chambre 69, Glasgow
Kuedo x Shackleton show.JPG
Glasgow is a city largely spoiled by its variety and wealth of high-quality club nights, and is home to crowds that are by turns both extremely discerning and fun-loving. It's rare to find a UK city in which you can have a packed club absolutely enthralled by some of the most experimental electronic music in the world whilst making the dance floor heave and the ceiling drip with sweat. It's a sensibility that makes Glasgow one of those cities that DJs rave about for their enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge, and the Clash x Palace x Zeroten presentation of Kuedo and Shackleton was no different. It was fitting that the generously sized basement club and its barren concrete was sparsely light and chilly on entry, as tonight was all about building the heat - slowly, intensely, but surely.

First to step up on the night was Glaswegian DJ Mark Maxwell, who set a particularly high standard in the early hours with his seamless technique and selection. Having worked with the late great John Peel on his radio show and filled the role of resident DJ at respected local club night Electric Eliminators, who were the first to bring the dubstep sound to Glasgow in its early youth in the early to mid 2000's, Mark Maxwell is one of the UK's best kept secrets. His tastes take a multitude of winding paths through the most sublime recesses of ambient electronica, techno and dubstep with the sensibility of a passionate and sincere curator, and surely deserves a wider UK or international audience for his talents.

Maxwell was followed up by graphic designer turned producer Konx-om-Pax, whose debut LP 'Regional Surrealism' was released this summer on Planet Mu to widespread critical acclaim for its ethereal journey through experimental electronica. It's always best to expect the unexpected with him though and this DJ set was a case in point, as he tore through acid house, disco and techno with playful flair and the occasional well-received slip up, and got the crowd moving on a night designed largely for the serious type. Finishing on the Chic extended remix of Carly Simon's 'Why' was greeted with wide eyed appreciation and a sing-along from the crowd, who probably didn't anticipate a disco edit of 80s pop getting dropped any time tonight.

As the reverb from Konx-om-Pax's last selection faded out to warm applause the mood took a dramatic turn with the first of the nights two headline acts Kuedo, the Berlin-based producer whose debut 'Severant' promised - and delivered - one of the most intriguing and atmospheric albums of 2011. His productions are so indebted to the science fiction cinematic aesthetic, most widely aligned with Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, that it was more than fitting that his live set be accompanied by a specially-designed live AV show, undertaken by Berlin based audio/visual group MFO and led on the night by Lucy Benson.

Although light on the hardware his live show was utterly enthralling, as Kuedo was subtly enveloped into MFO's projections of fractured light on the wall behind; waterfalls of shadow and kaleidoscopic blinding light rippling across the stage and synchronised with the synthesiser-led compositions of Severant cuts, which were woven together with a finesse and intensity that few live shows manage to command. The most dramatic movement was the splicing of his latest single 'Work Live and Sleep In Collapsing Space' into the more delicate pieces, its rolling bass and eerie, rapid-fire percussion pounding like bursts of thunder across the dance floor to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

The mood once again shifted when Shackleton took to the stage and thankfully the gripping atmosphere built by Kuedo remained, as anticipation for Shackleton's live show was palpable. It had been nearly four years since he'd brought a live show to Glasgow and even though memories of his previous performances had set a high standard amongst the relatively familiar crowd, Shackleton did not disappoint. It was an exquisite hour and a half from the Yorkshireman, who largely avoided his early seminal work on Skull Disco for more recent material from his Woe To The Septic Heart label and 'Music For The Quiet Hour/The Drawback Organ' EP releases, which are easily his magnum opus' of boundary-melting, entrancing productions.

The years since the initial dubstep explosion have been extremely kind to Shackleton. It would be a more than fair observation to make that he is one of the most original, fascinating and talented producers the UK has produced in the past ten years, and the crowd rhythmically dipped and swerved across the dance floor in full knowledge of this, lapping up the unusually up-tempo offerings from the man himself right until the lights went up to rapturous applause. Overall, the well-curated bill allowed the night to be at turns serious and hypnotic whilst allowing the crowd chances to breathe and move amongst the live sets, reflecting on their techniques and styles in the moment whilst also being entertained – a rare treat.

Photo Credit: Dasha Miller
Words by Lauren Martin

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