As ALTER prepared for their debut party at MiNT Club last Friday, Josh Plews investigated to see why this relatively new addtion to the Leeds clubbing scene was causing such a buzz.
There is no doubt that Leeds has been one of the most exciting places to hear high quality underground music for years, with so many respected brands and events series having been incepted here, with the greatest still residing amongst the strong population of the cities clubs.
It also can’t be denied however, that shaking up what is on offer keeps things at this level of excitement, and in my opinion it’s something that’s has been needed for some time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the leading lights of Leeds’ club scene have diminished to any extent, however the need of ‘something new’ has never been more apparent.
When posters went up and flyers were handed out advertising ALTER’s party at Mint Club, which took place on Friday the 16th October, seeing a new party arrive in the city was in itself, quite exciting. After a bit of research it turned out that ALTER has had a presence in Leeds for sometime, however the line up that was adorning these posters throughout September was something of an entirely different story, and a prospect that made ALTER’s debut on Harrison Street, the boldest mark on the clubbing calendar in recent months.
The line up set to perform at this Friday night party offered serious potential, an imaginative mix of world-class live performance in Mathew Jonson, a dose of German hedonism with Dial Records staple and Berghain resident Efdemin, the locally sourced favourite Ste Roberts and Alter’s own resident Animist.
Brothers Nick and Jamie Collins are the brains behind ALTER, which launched earlier this year at Wire. Although until now, the party has not been on the radar as boldly. ALTER’s inaugural two parties saw Tin Man, Raudive and Matt Walsh play alongside resident DJ Animist, showing the organisers apt for quality electronic music from the outset.
Nick wants to offer an expeience rather than just adding another club night to the cities thriving scene. Ideas such as not having a photographer encapsualte a kind of ethos that allows Berlin to stand out when it comes to hedonism driven clubbing. He said:
“We’ve set out to do something a little different in Leeds. Without sounding cliché, the music and the experience come first and foremost for us - no compromises or gimmicks. We will book the artists we are passionate about, and who share our values, with a view to curating memorable, immersive experiences that leave a lasting impression. The concept and branding allude to psychedelia and altered states of consciousness. Music, and especially repetitive brands of electronic music such as techno, have a powerful transportive affect and in the right context have the power to take us places we never knew existed. We hope to be able to create an environment for people to come together in a collective spirit, to lose themselves, and to go to wherever the music takes them.”
The inaugural party at Mint, an occasion shrowded in mystery, yet served to cause a clear feeling of excitement in the stomachs of Leeds' techno lovers. It was time to see what it was all about.
Ste Roberts, a resident of the most recently absenting techno institution in Leeds (Selective Hearing) was warming up Mint Club’s ever-intimate main room once we entered the club. As we arrived around the midnight mark it was seemingly quiet, however this didn’t deter our hopes and the crowd grew throughout the following hour and a half to the tune of dark yet steady music, which proved a more than suitable warm up to Mathew Jonson, who, as always, was donning an impressive array of outboard equipment on the live performance area to the left of the DJ booth.
Mathew Jonson has played live in Leeds a number of times during recent years, however the thought of him playing at Mint Club sparked an extra tinge of excitement in our veins leading up to the party. After a fade out, Jonson brought in a series of his signature synth sounds that built the track up in unison with the shared mood of the crowd. Cheers echoed around the club that was now at a perfect capacity and an instantaneous break into Dump Truck sent us all loose in a frenzy of sawtooth hooks and bouncy 808 beats.
Many of the staple tracks that adorn Jonson’s live sets appeared, with highlights being That Girl Can Dance and Subatomic, which was layered with a vocal we eventually found out to be Matthew “f**kin’ around on a mic”. A number of new tracks could be heard throughout his live set, which favoured breaks more so than those we’ve heard before, keeping things interesting. Those who have seen him action will know this aint no ‘semi-live laptop affair’, as he projects his skills as a programmer, musician and improvisational artist onto the array of equipment at his finger tips. Jonson ended abruptly after an hour and a half causing cheers to be thrown about toward him, before focus was taken back to the front of the room for Efdemin’s journey into darker territory.
Having neglected to see Efdemin before now, when I thought of his music I pictured deep, transcending grooves like those that can be heard on his Chicago LP and others across the Dial imprint. Knowing the Berlin resident is a regular selector at the helm of the cities most notorious dance floors, however; I prepared for something quite different.
After taking things away with a couple of tracks that concentrated the dance floor and set the vibe, Efdemin launched into a fury of pulsating music that echoed the soundtrack of Berlin’s most discerning parties. The first hour of his performance saw the bright keys of The Wise Caucasian’s Sac Magique bring hands to the ceiling and stretch smiles as far as they would go, before the elements of techno tinged house were swapped out for darker, dubbed out sounds that engulfed the dance floors alongside streams of smoke, which gave the club an eerie, underground feel that we most certainly wanted.
After an already impressive first half, the speed crept up to introduce a fury of even more powerful beats that were splattered with warm yet piercing synth sounds. Acid Jesus’ Radium and Cari Lekebusch’s Mad Poet were two of the standout selections from a perfect balance of todays cutting edge and clever classics, all in all forming a body of some of the best music I have personally heard in a long time.
As the clock approached 4:30 there was no sign of the crowd giving up whatsoever, something that is really great to see from the point of view of both dancers and the DJ. You could clearly tell by the smile on Efdemin’s face he was having as good a time as anyone. Cheers from the crowd were met with cheers from the DJ who looked like he was more than willing to play past his billed time of 4:30. It wasn’t before finishing off his performance with Floorplan’s undeniable all time classic Never Grow Old that Efdemin removed his headphones and passed things on to Alter’s resident Animist, who was bravely billed to close here after. He took the reigns and sustained the energy the past few hours had built to hold.
When the time came to leave it was clear that ALTER had given us just what we wanted, with the still strong crowd surely agreeing that this exciting combination of selectors was most certainly a refreshing breath of fresh air. As we were seeing Alter for the first time in Leeds it wasn’t apparent at the time as to whether this would be a one off, or if it would be continuing after this roaring debut. After seeing the announcement of the following date however, which features more of Berlin’s finest in Answer Code Request as well as British stalwart Trevino, it’s clear they are here to stay. We’ll most definitely be there.
Words by Josh Plews
Photos courtesy of ALTER