As Abandon Silence winds up its 8th Birthday celebrations with its third installment, The Waveform Transmitter’s Jack Threlfall reflects on a night of diverse sounds with Denis Sulta.
Abandon Silence has seen itself become a taste making behemoth over the past 8 years. From humble gatherings in The Magnet back in 2010, to parties of eye-watering magnitude in 2018, the creative team behind the Liverpool electronic music brand have overseen an evolution that has captured the imagination of ravers all over the country.
The third event in the Abandon Silence birthday programme welcomed the Glaswegian dance firebrand Denis Sulta to the Invisible Wind Factory on Liverpool’s dockside. His meteoric rise to one of electronic music’s most sought after DJs has been a journey that has captivated dance music’s cultural consciousness. With Sulta’s label Sulta Selects becoming near ubiquitous, and his style epitomising a frenetic vision of modern rave, the Scottish icon has become an unstoppable force.
The time was only 11:30PM but the crowd, already at critical mass, were being enveloped by a cacophony of two-step basslines and slick hip-hop vocals; the Dutch maestro Tom Trago was in the ascendancy. Fizzing reso leads began to warp around the venue whilst skittish hats fluttered in and out of the soundscape. Quick draw snares tip-toed in the wake of galloping basslines, and stark stabs of “woah” injected themselves into the baying crowd. The dense huddle of swaying dancers each had an identical grin etched into their face – a collective smile stretched as far the eye could see.
Suddenly, the entire room was evacuated of musical sound – only confusion and muttered conversations remained. The Invisible Wind Factory sound system had cut out and Tom Trago was left unable to continue his set, however, the trusting Liverpool crowd did not let this affect their mood. The rawkus throng of partygoers began to chant words of encouragement and scream noises of appreciation. Pockets of people began to sing their own rhythms and dance to their own beat, all the while Tom Trago stood, arms aloft, conducting the dancers beneath him without a single note of music.
After 15 minutes, the Abandon Silence sound crew managed to spark the sound system back into life, and with it came a rumbling kick drum that energised the crowd into delirium.
Trago reignited the dance floor with a stripped back house sound that lashed grooving vocals of “oh bitch” across the cavernous space. The talented selector began to make up for lost time by playing trusted dancefloor killers such as Nina Kraviz’s Ghetto Kravitz and Two Together, Trago’s own collaboration with Berghain resident Steffi, before finishing his set on moody acid cut Sumo Acid Crew by Palm Trax.
The introduction Denis Sulta engineered for himself after Trago had stepped aside was an enigmatic, introspective and tense exploration of Arabian vocals and droning pads. The Glaswegian had decided to lull the crowd into a world of uncertainty where no one knew what was to come next. The leftfield introduction meandered with strained breakbeat and off-beat claps, which left the crowd ready for a transition into something special. That transition manifested itself in the form of an outrageous bassline track that forced the crowd’s faces to contort with glee. The yellow-haired Tazmanian Devil had arrived.
After the intense introduction, Sulta’s track selection settled into a refined flurry of disco cuts – from O’Flynn’s Tru Dancin’ to Brame and Hamo’s Roy Keane. The sounds rushing forth from the Invisible Wind Factory speakers were characterised by nostalgic slap bass, punchy string stabs and twinkling piano melodies. As the Scottish selector pushed forward, his style of play became purposefully erratic. Sulta transitioned from souped-up house to flamboyant disco in breakneck fashion and watched on with delight as he revelled in the crowd’s uncertainty.
Neon synth leads would galvanise the crowd into a hysterical mob whilst reverberating tom drums pulsed above the hedonistic atmosphere. Tracks like Hypnotize (Terry Lee Brown Jr. Remix) by Submantra and Mark Grant’s remix of The Chicago Connection’s Dancin’ were prime fodder for the Abandon Silence crowd as they cherished every last note of Sulta’s selection.
As the night fell into it’s final hour, Denis Sulta took his set off road and injected a more rigorous techno flavour into the soundscape. He harangued the crowd with throbbing basslines, cut-throat hi-hats and steamroller kick drums, all of which forced the crowd to dance harder, faster and with more purpose. This was a clear indicator of Sulta’s muscular record collection.
It is clear to see why Sulta is currently riding high as one of the most sought after DJs in the game. His ability to gallop in and out of genres and carve out sets that ride a wave of eclectic mischief is something to be commended. Sulta transmits his own manic frequency onto the crowd, with his limbs in perpetual motion and his eyes alight with the manna of electronic music, he will reign as a dizzying DJ for years to come.