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  Sean Cusick 02.22.2002
by Damon Fonooni
Photos by Lei Vishnu

Venue: Eleven50
Presented by: Eleven50 and Liquified

The thought of an evening overflowing with mental experiments in dance music somehow managed to keep me from freezing in the temperatures outside. I didn't know what to expect from a Sean Cusick who had just stepped off the plane following a night in New York City. Then again, I wouldn't know what to expect from a fully rested Sean Cusick on any given night of the week. But he would be playing at Eleven50 after a mere thirty minutes of sleep, and believe it or not, with a crick in his neck.

As I walked in, with the master volume at about fifty percent, the sound of a very experienced Gene Carbonell had my head nodding. Gene always knows how to please me musically, and that night was no exception. With his white labels and promos no doubt from Balance Promote Group and his friend Barry Gilbey, half of the group Mara and owner of Choo Choo records, he had the crowd moving to a sound that is the future in progressive music. It was that sound — that almost square, mechanical yet still percussive sound. That sound that relies on the minimal, techy rhythms and basslines that forces the people to move. I can't explain that sound, but I can sure as hell enjoy it.

Divine Dancing SoulI was making my rounds through the club to try and take in the atmosphere. Eleven50 is one of the best venues I have seen in Atlanta because it ties in an artistic, fashionable vibe with the music that I love so much. Liquid Groove had brought in their massive sound system much to my delight, and the lights were subtle yet effective. I headed towards the back area that is so perfectly designed to be a sexy, laidback getaway for those who need to take a break from the dance. In that room there was a guest DJ spinning funky and nu skool breaks, the likely choice for sideroom music in Atlanta. Heading upstairs, I found myself looking out over the venue and admiring the classical ceiling — that of a remodeled opera house. To my right was the DJ booth, which was most likely a balcony or organ player's seat originally. I stepped over to greet Gene and realized how the DJ must feel as though he or she was being worshipped from up there.

As Gene brought the volume levels up, the sound grew louder and the beats began to swell. The crowd responded with a unanimous cheer — after all, they were there to absorb the pounding rhythms with their swaying hips. From the upper floor, the sound was somewhat muffled from reflecting off so many walls Sean Cusickand alcoves, but it didn't matter because I saw a disheveled Sean Cusick in jeans and a plain white t-shirt walking up the stairs with his record box and I decided to talk a little bit with him. He told me about his hectic schedule that involved him flying out to Mexico City for a gig the next night. Sean also mentioned that his plans for March focused on production work with a few A-list producers, as well as solo projects. After we discussed his sleep deprivation and the scare of all scares-the crick in his neck-I returned downstairs and left him to relax a little and sip on his beverage before he stepped up to the decks just shy of one o'clock in the morning.

And what a step it was. Gene had warmed up the crowd to the perfect level, and as Sean began to take over, I watched the DJ booth for signs of a mix. Of course I couldn't hear one, which was the one thing I could expect from the native Floridian DJ who, along with his friend Jimmy van Malleghem, was the first to bring Sasha and John Digweed to the United States for what would be known as their Northern Exposure tour. Sean Cusick started off playing minimal, dark and techy with hints of male vocals thrown in, including the Lexicon Avenue track, "Whu U R Here," on Satoshi Tomiie's SAW label. He also dropped the [correction] 3AM remix of John Creamer and Stephane K's "I Wish You Were Here" (out this week). After a few songs into his set, Sean started having some fun with his mixing and cut one song into another, picking up the tempo as he went. He even dipped back into his box to play "Your Lovin'" by Electric Tease released on Automatic Records about a year ago. Cusick experimented with some minimal, dark, tribal tracks with sounds that continued to bulge and expand. He progressed into Groove Juice's "Back to Africa" (the Little Green Men remix of course), and ventured into harder, tech-trance areas. He wasn't playing as the Sean Cusick I knew from his opening sets, most recently with Sasha, blowing my mind with songs that I hadn't heard or could even grasp; he was playing as the headliner Sean Cusick, throwing in the familiar track now and then and hitting the crowd with a hard sound. What a pleasant surprise to be, well, surprised by a DJ who doesn't just play what everyone expects him to. Ah, refreshing, isn't it?

Although it wasn't as mentally provoking as I had hoped, that night was a success in my books, and I'm sure in the books of most of those who attended. The crowd, neither massive nor scarce, was up for it and so was I. I enjoyed Sean Cusick and Gene Carbonell, Eleven50, the sound system brought out by Liquified and watching another night in the progression of our music in Atlanta unfold.

Related links

At Amazon.com

Norther Exposure from Amazon.com Northern Exposure, vol. 1
Mixed by Sasha & John Digweed

Track Listing:

  1. Satellite Serenade - Suzuki, Keiichi
  2. Cascade - Future Sound Of Lon
  3. These Waves - Young American Prim
  4. Raincry - God Within
  5. Out of Body Experience - Rabbit In The Moon
  6. I'm Free - King, Morgan
  7. Ultraviolet - Kites
  8. Obsession - Fuzzy Logic
  9. Water from a Vine Leaf - Orbit, William
  10. Liquid Cool/Deep Forest Ice Cold [Equator Mix] - Apollo 440
  11. Last Train to Lhasa - Banco De Gaia

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