Liquified presents Sasha 07.02.2003
by Mike Andrew
photos by Martynas Simokaitis
additional photos courtesy of Julie Cash
Sasha. For many this name has always been connected with a DJ who seems to bring a magic to the decks, a mysterious force whose dancing melodies and ripping beats move you and leave you emotionally touched. I have perhaps been into the scene too long to easily buy into these sorts of descriptions. But I can say without a doubt that, was it not for Sasha, I would never have traveled down the path that has led me into DJing, producing records, and being consumed by this music. Northern Exposure, Global Underground San Francisco, Global Underground Ibiza, and years of Twilo with John Digweed have fully exposed me to the Sasha sound. I'll admit front and center I have always been hugely inspired by his music. I rather enjoyed Sasha's previous set in Atlanta at Blü and thought that party had a great vibe. So I was curious to see what Sasha at eleven50 would bring me this time.
I arrived to the club in time to catch the last half of Ian James' set, and there was already a fairly sizable crowd. Liquified had moved the DJ booth to the catwalk above the main entrance, as they have done for previous shows. While it does open up the room, it can sometimes be strange looking for the DJ from the main dance floor through the crowded stage full of people. That said, I can't imagine putting the booth anywhere else, and from the perspective of the DJ, it really gives a good view of the entire room. Liquified brought in additional sound as well for the show, leaving to a fairly sizable thump in the main room, with a few speakers on the outside Eden area for those who needed a break and fresh air.
When I first walked in Ian was playing Vance Musgrove - "Elemental," a beautiful groovy track with glistening chords: a perfect record to set the mood. He built it up a bit more, moving into some tweaky tech-house on Big Chief and a new track from Slacker on his Jukebox in The Sky label, and had the pace pretty chugging. As usual the crowd started to get excited when Sasha stepped up to the decks, and with his first track I knew it would be back to a bit of the magic I had come to know from "the man like."
If any of you have heard Sasha's Glastonbury set, the tunes at eleven50 were fairly similar, and many of the highlights of that set were here as well. He opened with a glistening track that tripped out with a melodic delay line for what seemed liked minutes, hypnotizing me and the crowd. From there it was onward into the Matthew Dekay track, "Beautiful Monday," which he and Sander Kleinenberg have been championing for a while now. A few groovy, melodic tracks followed. Sasha really started to kick it into gear with the track Golan Globus - "Blazer," which I am now trying to hunt down. It has a groove that suggests it could almost be played by a live drummer, with guitars and keys overlapping a live bassline groove. Swirly sounds and twinkly melodies with a beautiful breakdown that brings out a fuller guitar riff and swirls of sound provided quite an uplifting moment indeed.
Sasha continued the theme of glistening guitars later on with the stellar "Hoochi Coochie Man" by Maurice and Noble, a track soon to be released on Yoshitoshi and included on Deep Dish's latest Global Underground. If you haven't heard this one, it's a chugging monster with a breakdown that sounds like U2 could have played. After this he moved into a bit more of the Sasha chug we have come to know and love, with Steve Porter's mix number 2 of Amber - "Anyways," which Bedrock was so kind to license and release. The peak of the night for me was the sequence of records after this: Timo Maas - "Unite," a quirky hypnotic track with spooky vocals that has been rocked out by superstar and local DJs alike, into Alex Dolby's eerily "French Kiss"-like "Psiko Garden." In fact, Sasha was playing an edit of "Psiko Garden" which slows down in tempo like the classic "French Kiss" does, and then builds back up to an astounding amount of synths that sound like they came from the best of progressive rock's monster keyboard players. The crowd responded appropriately to this one.
One of my personal favorites of the night was the Planet Funk Dub of Nu - "Any Other Girl." An absolutely ripping techno track with wild, mad sounds, which Sasha squeezed every bit of juice out of by filtering in and out on the Allen and Heath mixer. That was the Sasha sound I remember from Twilo at 6am. Another standout was the Junkie XL mix of Dave Gahan - "Dirty Sticky Floors." Junkie XL has been on quite a roll lately, co-producing Sasha's album, Airdrawndagger, as well as having a global number one hit with his remix of Elvis that was the theme of the World Cup. His tracks have been featured in Sasha's sets quite often lately; last time in Atlanta it was the Junkie XL mix of Fischerspooner - "Emerge".
As the night wore on the crowd had thinned out a bit and there was more space to dance on the floor. He brought everyone right back with the Adam Freeland remix of Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Love it or hate it, this track rocks in a club, and I can attest to its power on the dancefloor. He played a few more tracks, and then, as usual, it was time for the encore. As with every Sasha event, people are always crying out for more, and he decided to bring out the often derided, yet loved by many crowds, "Cowpander," as it has been labeled. Essentially it's a mix of Sasha's "Xpander" with vocals and elements of Underworld's - "Cowgirl." It certainly had the crowd hooping and hollering and wanting more, as all good encores do. Perhaps he was feeling generous, but he decided to play one more track for those who just didn't want to leave, and decided another mashup was in order. This time Mike Koglin's "Enjoy The Silence" mashed up with his own "Wavy Gravy," apparently spliced together by his protégé James Zabiela. Certainly does the trick, and it's nice to see some of the older tracks that I enjoyed on the Northern Exposure series coming back into clubs.
Now, while the encores certainly did it for the majority of the crowd, I will have to admit that I expected more. I believe that is the third time I have heard "Cowpander" in Atlanta, and personally I feel both "Xpander" and "Cowgirl" are better tunes by themselves. The night as a whole had a good vibe, though perhaps not quite as magical as his previous performance at Blü. I think the more intimate nature of Blü lent itself to a more "underground" vibe that reminded me of my Twilo years. Mixing wise, Sasha was technically on form, as I didn't hear even a wobble all night. Eleven50 as a space is a beautiful club. It's wonderful being able to go into the open air and enjoy the feel of Atlanta, but to me the club is still too "bright" for certain dance events. I have always been partial to a dark, mysterious room with pulsating strobe lights and fog triggered at the right moments.
Overall, the night was a success, and I feel Sasha delivered many magical tracks that reminded me of why I got into dance music in the first place. But at the same time, it just wasn't enough to take me to that next level and go into my archive of transcendental Sasha experiences. Maybe next time. As always, thanks to Liquified and eleven50 for continuing to bring quality DJs to the Atlanta scene and making it possible for the many fans of this music to hear good music in a safe and well-run environment.
Air Drawn Dagger
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