Polish selector Margaret Dygas returned to London for an extended set at Bloc as a guest of Krankbrother last weekend, demonstrating the eccentric take on minimal house and techno and penchant for the unexpected which make her one of the most compelling DJs around.
Starting at around two after Krankbrother had set the tone with a carefully constructed warm up set, Dygas quickly took the wide Bloc dancefloor as her own by twisting skippy Perlon techno with surprising draws for UK sounds like Joy Orbison’s “The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow”. The foggy darkness of Bloc, an expertly unadorned example of the bare walled, dimly lit spaces that allow both artist and audience to dictate the atmosphere, mirrored the blurred boundaries that the Panorama Bar resident creates with her music, with spectacularly indistinguishable mixes and the subtleties of her tracks allowing the journey to progress almost without sense of time. With the large windows blacked out to remove all trace of the sun’s ascent in the east, Bloc becomes one of those clubs that seems to exist almost independently of the world outside, the heavy use of smoke machines and soft lighting making it feel deceptively small. Still packed at close, the venue could not have fit better with the immersive experience that Margaret seeks to create, allowing her to explore deeply whilst also hammering it out during darker moments in the set.
What is always most striking about Dygas’ sets, however, is the way that she reads her audience, guiding them through states of reverie and rumination before playfully rising them from hallucinogenic stupors with the most unexpected of twists. Cutting into swing and soul numbers for short intervals before striking hard with quick retreats back into unyielding techno, the last hour of her contoured set incorporated breaks and electronic oddities, ending on the sweetest of closers with Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”. A DJ whose calculated risks seem like visceral brainwaves, three hours with Dygas at Bloc was more than enough time to enforce her position as one of the most exciting DJs in underground music.
Photo courtesy of Tailored Communication