Musiq Concrete

14.12.09 Words by: Charlie Jones

After queuing in the torrential rain and having a search of my person that would come second only to a cavity search, I am inside remembering a Resident Advisor description of Musiq Concrete (‘a yearning for pushing music forward’) which conjures up in my head David Brent as a promoter subscribing to club waffle to attract pretentious dickheads. And with a feeling of scepticism, drenched and cold, and slightly reeling from the recent attack on my civil liberties, (not forgetting the sound of some sort of Turkish electro/techno Euro pop blasting out the main room and not the good kind if there ever was such a thing), I can foresee a bad night.

Despite all this, the night quickly picks up, as a live set from Plugs
playing their slick quirky pop sound that would slot perfectly into a Kitsune comp combines perfectly with a flashing 80s style checker board brightly washed with colour and the vibrant disco flooring by the bar. Then quickly on to Hannah Holland to catch some of her set that combines bouncy tech house with glimpses of her minimal electro Trailer Trash signature. Hang-ups forgotten, the dance floor and I begin to find our groove, as my head empties and my hands fill up with drinks.

After flitting between the refreshingly friendly crowds in the smoking area, the free-for-all toilets (the men’s used by all as a passage to the smoking area), I sample more musical delights in the main room with Mowgli who, in a similar vein to Hannah Holland, is not afraid to dish out some techno but this time with a harder, slightly more minimal edge – which was surprising after hearing his recent EP ‘London to Paris’ which is more in line with Boy 8 Bit or Crookers. On a big sound system this sounds immense and no one objects to the London-based Italian straying into the steady and comfortable realms of intricately layered yet pounding body music. This is a theme that runs throughout the main room for the entire night.

Next, on to the solitary lad from Norfolk in the other room. That solitary lad from Norfolk being Nathan Fake (who I overhear one girl wants to marry) – one of the highlights on the Border Community label along with founder James Holden. After his esoteric first album ‘Drowning in a Sea of Love’, ‘Hard Islands’ illustrates a move to a more mainstream sect of dance music, techno. His fast pace live set reflects this shift, but still with the melancholic synths and synesthetic percussion which characterised the first album. The beauty of it is that you can actually dance to it – and people are.

It is here I see the acceptable face of techno – not the leftovers from the trance generation desperately hanging on to their “youth” or just pilled up weirdoes – that early morning raver crowd in the eyes of disapproving dog walkers – but the younger, up and coming generation of electro/bass lovers engaging with a gradual steady dance floor sound. It suddenly dawns on me that this is how modern dance music is evolving, combining discernible elements of bass/electro/electronica/minimal but threaded together with a techno backbone and it dawns on me how appealing it is – an inventive sound that is consistent, engaging and most of all makes people want to dance.

To me this fits in perfectly with the overall ethos of Musiq Concrete; that music is meant to be more tangible – the emphasis of the live stage fitting with the literal translation of the moniker as ‘real music’.

And with the dust of the night settled, I reflect on the relatively varied generic mix of dance music – as ‘musiq concrete’ is also a form of electro acoustic music made up of several genres – but underlined by a common thread: techno. So maybe Musiq Concrete does have a sincere desire and ‘a yearning for pushing music forward’, and wasn’t just babbling – it is just a shame it sounded so wanky.

Check out our review of Sud Electronic