Chris Liebing destroyed the room at Underground Liverpool as he showcased how to play ‘real’ techno. The Waveform Transmitter’s Jack Threlfall was in attendance to witness the maestro at work.
Liverpool’s Underground has already cemented an uncompromising policy when it comes to showcasing techno DJs; only those of the highest calibre will do.
Having already hosted the stalwart figures of Ben Klock and UMEK in the last six months, it comes as little surprise that their last show had the CLR head-honcho and all round techno deity, Chris Liebing, at the helm. If Liebing’s Liverpool return wasn’t enough to frenzy the city’s techno militia with anticipation, then the addition of Dystopian’s Alex Do and Liverpool’s very own tRibe resident and Disjointed Reality label owner, Tom Page, certainly would.
Tom Page opened the evening’s proceedings with a dreamscape of ethereal grooves; reverb laden kick drums and ricocheting rim shots engulfed the filling venue and laced the atmosphere with a moody tension.
As time slid forward, Mr. Page began to tinker with the sonic mood he was presenting. Sweeping ambiances were swapped for stomping rhythms and primal basslines – you’d expect little else from a DJ whose own parties channel the energies of primeval jungle clans conducting rain dances and hunting rituals.
The last half an hour of the Liverpool DJ’s set saw the need to balance the musical offerings and augment the anticipatory feeling of the evening; rolling moog synth-lines, ceremonious drum patterns and Cryptik’s Radiance all contributed to a perfectly constructed foundation for a night of undiluted techno.
The tRibe DJ exhibited a gamut of mature and poised selections, never once slipping into self-indulgence or misreading the audience; true testament to his skill behind the decks. You can check out Tom‘s mix in its entirety, at the foot of the page.
The Liverpool DJ had finely crafted his opening set with the assurance and control of a true professional, setting the stage perfectly for Dystopian’s Alex Do.
As the Berlin native took the reins, the unmistakable Dystopian signature of callous synths and rolling basslines oozed from the Funktion One sound system painting the crowd with a tantalising prolepsis. At one particular moment the crowd began to swell as undulating and viscous acid morphed into sharp futurist squelches; swiftly delayed hi-hats carpeted the lead and rose towards hyper-tension.
The subtle and practised vision of Alex Do was expressed fully as the crowd failed to notice the usually ubiquitous thump of the kick and bass drop out. Reverb enshrouded the room and seemed to lull the spectators into an oddly comforting interlude, until suddenly the snap of a thunderous march broke from every corner of the room and forced the crowd’s hands involuntarily skyward.
The arc of Do’s set seemed to follow the operatic trope of the rise and fall, consistently using bleak Berlin soundscapes to float over the bustling crowd like a stalking vulture. The effect of this was devastating.
As the sample of “I want you to follow me” from Session Restore’s Speak Out echoed around the club, every face was firmly fixed on the booth anticipating a blockbuster drop; the sample faded out and gave way to ping pong snare patterns that bounced around the room with a fevered attitude, faces creased with expectancy until suddenly a pneumatic kick broke the ensemble and raised a unanimous chorus of whoops and hollers.
Alex Do refused to hold back and tore through his relentless record collect with aplomb, selecting tracks from the likes of Slam and Antigone, satisfying the crowd’s lust for unremitting anthems. The talented selector had the crowd foaming at the mouth as he stepped aside to allow his fellow countryman, Chris Liebing, to enter the fray.
The Gießen born DJ cleansed the raw power of Alex Do with a tense atmospheric build of swooning ambiance. Shouts and cheers multiplied as the absence of a kick drum began to rally the ravenous crowd until a commandingly rhythmic bassline electrified the room. Liebing was here.
If there was ever a term to describe Chris Liebing, it would be “Techno Engineer”. For those that are unaware, the nature of his craft is one that, in his own words, makes “producers hate [him]”; he does not play a single track as it were intended. He instead decides to surgically deconstruct elements from many different tracks and reconstructs them on the fly using his mixer, drum machines and other technically intricate methods.
There are few DJs working today that are able to orchestrate a set of machine precision whilst maintaining such polished and danceable characteristics.
One such moment of genius saw, what sounded like, a segment of Daniel Avery’s Drone Logic on a tight 8 bar loop played over the top of a monstrous kick, which reverberated through every rib-cage in the room; a silky house vocal sample crept from beneath the storming elements and contributed to an unexpectedly funky crescendo. This presentation of aural ideas is a Frankenstein symbiosis of two very disparate styles that ultimately became Liebing’s own.
Over the course of three relentless hours, Liebing tinkered his way through a narrative of pure energy and uncompromising techno, his own live edits and manipulation of tracks from such artists as SHDW & Obscure Shape, Charles Fenckler and Funk D’Void were consistently impressive and, at times, completely other worldly.
As Liebing brought the fader down on his last track it was obvious that he didn’t want to finish and the faithful crowd certainly didn’t want to hear the kick drums curtailed either, however, all in attendance were left knowing that techno is alive and well in Liverpool and its continued presence is essential to the musical fabric of this fine city.