It’s a wet and surly crowd that enters the Twisted Pepper this particular night. Though this only gives the impression the everyone’s literally dripping with excitement, as they should be. Trust MUD to organise an all rounder such as this one. Legendary MC Topcat is commanding the ground floor with his trademark zealous mic work. Upstairs the savage drum & bass / jungle stylings of Bonz, Executive Steve, and Teddy from Macronite are charging out of those Funktion-One speakers, surrounding everyone in a ten foot radius with walls of deep dirty sound. Yet tempting as these acts are it’s Scuba that we’re here for so it’s down to the basement for state.
The decks are still warm from Salt regular Redahan when Scuba steps up to play. Things quickly move from warm to scorching in the space of about ten minutes. Not because of the tunes, the start of Scuba’s set is actually pretty tame, it’s the atmosphere that’s cooking. It’s as if the worker bees are finally graced with the presence of the queen, and she’s dishing out house music. Excitement is expected in this case. As founder of Hotflush Recordings, Scuba’s brought artists like Mount Kimbie, Untold, and Joy Orbison to the forefront. He runs the hugely successful Sub:Stance night in Berlin’s techno behemoth, Berghain – not to mention the fact that his second album Triangulation is probably one of the most important releases of 2010 – so expectations are understandably high.
Thankfully, Scuba doesn’t disappoint. The level of skill that he brings to the tables is seldom seen. He almost personifies fluidity, deftly moving from track to track, genre to genre, and tempo to tempo. The technique that he adopts for his set is quite strange. Unlike most DJs that progressively get faster or stick to a continuous speed throughout the night, Scuba gradually lessens the pace. Yet despite the BPM’s descent, the tracks themselves actually get harder. This conflict creates a glorious sonic whirlwind – as the set reaches its zenith the crowd is already wound down without them even realising it.
The start of the set is full of dub-house and dub-garage (Scuba is so bassy that the word dub can pretty much precede any genre). He then slowly segues into his main styles, UK bass and garage, with the clinical adroitness of a brain surgeon. These changes creep in over long periods, their impact subtle but incredibly effective. As many surely hoped, there is some unreleased Hotflush treats in the mix too. Sticking out above the rest is the forthcoming Joy Orbison single ‘Elipsis’. Scuba’s own recent release ‘Adrenalin’, from the EP of the same name, emerged out the sea of tunes to wash over everyone with its inarguably jaunty beat. This is a tune that’s been resonating all over European festivals for the past few months, for many it was the highlight of both Sonar and Outlook. In fact, it would be difficult to pick a better one for this gig. Perhaps with the exception of the encore, ‘You Got Me’, which was the perfect landing for a slick bass filled flight. Having seen him three times in the past year we’ve learned that if anything, Scuba’s anything is as consistent as he is dub-obsessed.