As house music royalty, Roy Davis Jr. helped Melodic Distraction celebrate their 2nd Birthday, The Waveform Transmitter’s Jack Threlfall was there to feel the love.
Hearing the muted thud of a 909 kick-drum break the membrane of a warehouse space and bleed out into the surrounding streets conjures an all too familiar glut of emotion: giddiness, excitement, fear and love.
However, if there ever was a catalyst for an amplification of this feeling then Roy Davies Jr would be it. The Chicago House mainstay commands an impressive reputation not only for his craft behind the decks but for his work with Phuture, Roulé and Undaground Therapy Muzik to name but a few. This writer was weeping with joy before he’d even entered the building.
Upon entering Constellations, the emergent crowd were treated by the savvy B2B pairing of Nick Wood and Nathan Bailey to a shower of syrupy string samples and soulful basslines. The duo were in their element as they experimented with the influence of swing, jive and ragtime cadences; slick piano cuts announced themselves as long lost friends to the crowd and continued to serenade them into a nostalgic lullaby of French inspired Jazz House.
As the crowd began to surge in numbers the DJs threw intentionally discordant Jazz basslines at the crowd and managed to meld them with sharp ghetto samples and, ultimately, concoct a groove of silky endeavour.
The soundscape began to shift as the wistfully sentimental bassline of Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse crept through the sound system. The neon synth lines and unapologetic tone within the track whipped the hysterical throng of people in a state of euphoria. This was now, undoubtedly, a party.
The standard had been set by Wood and Bailey and they prowled forward with a number of tracks that called upon slap bass leads; circular injections of muted trumpets and punchy violin stabs. As the brass and string sounds began to evaporate, the pair gave way to their successor on the decks, Jaxon Lamond and allowed him to reintroduce a terse House kick.
The Australian carefully tended the kick drum and it soon blossomed forth with afro angelic calls of “ah yeah” dancing around the thickening ether. The voices were suddenly accompanied by distinctive glockenspiel stabs and reverberating tom drums, coating the blissed out party with a Balearic accent.
From Balearic to Funk to House, Lamond did not settle as he switched from Norma Jean’s Saturday (Dimitri From Paris Remix) to Inner Sense’s MoTP throwing the crowd into fits of delirium. Maracas shook with the pulse of a mating ritual; shoulders jaunted back and forward as if threaded by an invisible sewing needle, and legs were pulled with a puppeteer’s control as they bounced incessantly to the waving bassline.
Lamond took the experimental jazz theme that his predecessors had toyed with and appropriated it to the next logical conclusion… unabashed saxophone solos and didgeridoo samples. The gallant choice to fully embrace world sounds and jazz influence really paid off for the Aussie DJ, as he watched the mob before him savour every last note.
During the ensuing rumble of jungle chimp samples and saxophone wails the figure of a legend stood poised behind the young selector. Jaxon Lamond knew his time was up and he humbly stood aside as he left a baying crowd tantalised by the knowledge that Chicago, was indeed, in the house.
Roy Davies Jr. did not hesitate to reaffirm the fact that those attending were indeed at a P-A-R-T-Y. His choice to drop Disco Juice’s version of Relight My Fire was a glorious example of the DJ’s flamboyant tendencies on the dance floor.
If there was any prerequisite for a DJ set it would be to make those at the party dance, however, it is hard to grasp just how effective Davies Jr. really is at getting people to dance; he began to charge the room with immaculately nostalgic Piano House and this drew in those souls in the smoking area.
(If your crippled aunt was present at this event then you can guarantee that she would have made a spontaneous recovery and made an immediate dart for the dance floor.)
The arrows of red strobe light that pulsed above the crowd pointed to random bodies below and immediately commanded them to dance. It was as if Roy Davies himself was controlling the lights and asking each person individually to get their groove on, yet he really didn’t have to ask anyone after he embraced the crowd with his much-celebrated track, Gabriel.
As the refined garage beat allowed harmonic trumpet melodies to reveal themselves, members of the crowd threw themselves at each other and hugged like they had known each other all their lives.
After powering thorough some intense Chicago House and 303 Acid House, Roy Davies Jr chose a decidedly classic route towards his grand finale. The unmistakable guitar ripples of Prince’s Controversy incited the already riotous crowd, yet this inciting was only a quarter done as the vocal sample “la la dee la la la” edged into the sonic pallet and demanded a returning chorus from the crowd.
Yes, Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless) was in full swing and not a single voice box in the room could deny themselves from singing along to the classic song.
It was implausible to think that Roy Davies Jr. enamour a crowd even more, but he evidently did as he whipped out the curveball Rock The Casbah and then followed it up with The Police’s Roxanne. There are very few DJs who could get away with such an excess of classics played alongside each other, but this was no normal selector. This was Roy Davies Jr.
All images © Mark Holmes, Sparktrap Photography