Words: Matthew Pollock
Following recent parties with the likes of Ejeca and Marc Houle, Dont Drop invited Scuba and Monoloc to take the reins at their annual Halloween party at the Sub Club, in what proved to be an intoxicating combination of ghoulish garb and thunderous techno.
Scuba, whose long-standing association with Berghain has been established on the back of a growing reputation for mesmerising crowds with his high-energy, progressive brand of electro and dark, brooding beats, recently blew socks off across the nation with a ferocious residency at Radio 1. The chance to see how his sound and style worked in the hallowed basement of Sub Club was too good to miss, so I donned my grisliest Halloween gear and headed down to see him in action.
Sub Club 🎹📡🎹📡🎹📡🎹— Scuba (@ScubaOfficial) November 1, 2016
A little after 11, Monoloc kicks things off in a direction that sets the tone for the evening – moody synth hooks and percussion as jagged as broken glass, all swept up in an undercurrent of bass so enticing that it’s hard to resist dancing even when you’re just ordering a drink at the bar. The people filing in through the door love it, and by midnight it feels like things are already in full swing. Glimpsed through the shadows and swirling fog of the dancefloor, the ghoulish faces in our midst take on a newfound realism.
Next up is Scuba. The atmosphere of his set feels apt for the occasion; each twist luring the crowd further into a musical house of mirrors in which expectations are confounded with devilish cunning. Where others might be tempted to milk a track from start to finish, the music forges ahead with irresistible momentum – each track fusing into the next in a way that steers us deeper into a storm-tossed, ever more frenzied soundscape. Techno sets of this intensity can so easily end up sounding cluttered, but through deft selection and sheer craftsmanship, our host ekes out a sense of space that so often eludes lesser DJs.
Yotam Avni’s ‘Tikkun’, which drops about halfway through Scuba’s time behind the decks, neatly encapsulates the darkly hypnotic aura of the set. Its unsettling falsetto vocal, underpinned by a rich patchwork of drums that throbs and rumbles underneath, marks one of many points at which a more delicate, melodic sensibility seems to rear its head above the cacophony, only to melt away into yet another smirk-inducing surge of rhythm.
Right to the very end, the set keeps pace with the crowd’s voracious appetite. Just when it seems like there is no way his selection could go deeper, more feverish, more powerful – Scuba manages it, sending the crowd into rapturous shrieks and bellows of appreciation. This felt a bit like the sonic equivalent of a high-wire routine: such was the crowd’s focus and awareness at each upping of the ante, just one misstep could have put a pin in their jubilation. No such fizzling-out came though - we left sweaty, aching, ears ringing, and wondering why every Monday night can’t be like this.
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