Of all of the bank holiday Sunday events happening on the 29th of May, System and Set One Twenty’s Terrace Party at Mint Warehouse was one of the best on the menu. With Ricardo Villalobos embodying all the things most creative about dance music, Romania’s Rhadoo bringing the exotic flavours of minimal, and Nicolas Lutz representing the so-called ‘new school’ of DJs who take digging for records to the next level, this was a fantastic opportunity to see three equally talented DJs that delivered on all fronts.
As people filled the sheltered outdoor terrace, Ricardo drew from the brighter side of house and techno, with warm basslines that gave a great backdrop to a groove in the sun. His mixing style was striking and diverse as ever; some tracks would slam in and take the crowd by surprise, while others he would tease for minutes, only to take back out again or reintroduce a hook from the record before. With an infectious and enthusiastic presence at the turntables, it was a lovely outdoor set that provided a perfect warm-up whilst also demonstrating why Villalobos is always top-of-the-bill.
At 11pm the dance moved indoors, and as Rhadoo stepped up to the controls it felt for the most curious there that this was the real beginning of the night. Helping to run the [a:rpia:r] label, Rhadoo has DJ’d many times alongside Ricardo over the past decade, and hailing from Romania - the Mecca of minimal - his three-hour set was a master class in gradually taking a crowd into a deeper mode of listening. Rich harmonies spiraled under lead lines as percussion cut through cryptic vocal samples, and the selections blended together in one long drum ritual. Mixes were hardly noticeable, and before long the room was in a trance.
Enter Nicolas Lutz. While he maintained a similarly continuous flow, especially for his first hour, a discerning ear could hear some clear changes in the sound as he took to the decks at 2am. Kick drums punched way above the subby tones of Rhadoo’s, and the crunchy hi-hats of 90s techno rushed it all forward. Known for playing seriously obscure and oddball records, Lutz took Rhadoo’s sturdy foundation and elevated it, with the two sets complimenting each other exceptionally. Drops and breaks, suddenly interrupting chugging garage and mind-bending electro, surged out of the speakers. Having been lulled by Rhadoo into expecting the drums to keep rolling all night, it was the exaggerated effect of these moments that stood out and made the night one to remember.
Words by Tom O'Rourke
Photos courtesy of Elliot Young