As far as Canal Mills is concerned, this was my maiden voyage. Having always previously opted to travel across to The Warehouse Project’s traditional New Year’s Day bash, I was excited to see what Leeds had in store. The artists performing were certainly cut from the same cloth, and with their proximity it made a lot of sense that some appeared on both bills. The lineup promised plenty of bass with just enough funk and soul to keep things interesting. There was a lot to pick through, but with hometown boy returning for a peak-time slot my eyes were firmly on him.
Midland was in scintillating form. His ability to loop, fade and transition tracks is flawless. But it’s his track selection which sets him apart from the rest of the lineup. He’s taken something of a liking to Todd Terje’s edit of “For Your Love” by Yardbirds recently, yet always chooses the right moment to spin it. Here he looped the hook two or three times before throwing down a sharp drop into some more unabashed techno. It was indicative of his ability to read a room. While his own productions and many of his sets are disco-tinged, there aren’t many main rooms rowdier than Canal Mills on New Year’s Day. The crowd wanted hi hats and rolling basslines. And they got them. He even found a way to play Fresh & Low’s “My Mission” underneath another track and make it sound as one. A rare talent.
Earlier in the night Artwork had played a typically eclectic soulful set, which included a slightly bizarre New Year’s Eve inspired countdown from ten. A gentleman on a PA began a countdown from ten, the music stopped, and Artwork dropped "Everybody Dance". Odd, but fun nonetheless.
(Midland had a huge year in 2017, and got 2018 to a similarly euphoric start at Canal Mills)
Room 2 spent the entire night moving to the sounds of Young Marco and Hunee. There are far worse way to spend six hours of your life. Young Marco had thrown an absolute curveball in the shape of Josh Wink’s “Higher State of Consciousness” shortly before Hunee took the wheel. The room, dimly lit and unassuming, gave some welcome respite from the intensity of the main room. The sound bled between the two somewhat, and the thoroughfare in the middle was something of an ordeal. But it’s part of the parcel of having excellent DJs in both rooms, and nobody seemed to mind too much.
Denis Sulta is similarly riding the crest of a wave. It’s safe to say that the majority of the crowd inside Canal Mills were there predominantly for the fresh faced Glaswegian selector. His latest productions have been solid, but his DJ sets are an entirely different beast. There few clubs in the country which haven’t born witness to him playing “Blow Your Mind” by Lock N Load, a cheesy throwback to an altogether different raving era. Here he was more considered but he wasn’t holding back. Paranoid London’s remix of “Angel of Hell” got an enormous reception. Josh Wink & Lil Louis’ “So How’s Your Evening So Far” also got an airing, owing to Sulta’s nose for excellent late nineties and early noughties anthems. A cursory glance of the Identification of Music Group the following morning threw up the phrase “unreleased Sulta” dozens of times, so it’s safe to assume there are new tunes on the way in the not too distant future. A tremendous way to kick off 2018.
(Denis Sulta served up a huge set packed with unreleased bangers)
Photos courtesy of Jack Kimber Photography
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