In the iridescent Savoy theatre, an enthusiastic reveller stands in the epicentre of the crowd like a prophetic Moses in a parted sea. Her eyes, wide as pennies, are complimented by the Cheshire cat smile that adorns her elated face. Her bare arms stretch up to the ceiling in anticipation of the beat that’s been building in the background for what seems like an eternity. Just as the tension seems to reach an unbearable level, a ferocious bass line explodes from the wall of speakers, enveloping the full-capacity crowd in a wave of release. This night belongs to Erol Alkan and his fiendishly hypnotic strain of techno.
Tonight, the centrepiece is a hollowed-out rubix cube, arranged into the shape of an opaque Transformer. Perched in its cavity, Alkan proceeds to weave an entrancing web of synths, samples and thundering rhythms that ensnare the dancing horde below.
Flowing seamlessly between genres, he delivers each new movement without ever altering the music’s relentless pace. His grasp of song dynamics is unsurpassed by many artist in the current electronic scene.
As the collective heart rate of the floor reaches a worrying intensity, he veers off into a new buildup; leaving the constant beat of the bass drum in the background as a reminder of what’s to come. His songs have the texture of cinematic landscapes that draw the listener into an electronic dream world. Minor chord arrangements produce a macabre industrial atmosphere only to be transformed by the subsequent saxophone samples into a panoramic vaudeville party. His music is a collage of all the great aspects of electronic music with the filler graciously left to his contemporaries. A sea of outstretched arms and smiling faces marks his departure from the stage like a techno pied piper surveying the effects of his mesmerising music.
Twin green halos illuminate the dancefloor like extra-terrestrial beams as Simian Mobile Disco take to the stage. For the hipsters and electroheads gathered here, the appearance of James Ford and Jas Shaw seemed like the primary attraction of tonight’s festivities and their subtler, synth-oriented sound is well received by the crowd but lacks the beat-driven intensity established by their support act.
Granular details rise to the fore to reveal the attention to detail lavished on their set. The two-tone blip of a sonar sample homing in on its target combines with the blue flashing lights of the stage to give the venue a subterranean quality.In their finale, they transform the sound of a skipping record into a rhythmic loop that builds to a piercing white noise peak before slamming back into the beat. As the green orbs of the darkened ceiling slowly recede, an understandably fatigued crowd rejoins the outside world with ringing ears and perpetual grins. As the green sphere departs for another 12 months, the seeds of anticipation have already been sewn as the crowd wonder what surprises are in store for Cork next year.
Photo: Luis Faustino.