HOMmega celebrates 13th Birthday with Astrix and Hallucinogen
Reported by Agnes Klos
Submitted 03-01-11 13:32
London has always been an oasis for psy trance. Here the scene is very much alive, mostly associated with squat parties, free-spirit hippies rather than high-calibre parties and clubs. However, London event promoters Proactive, responsible for Halcyon managed to build a bridge between the commercial crowd and the underground music world by inviting such world class DJs as Astrix, Hallucinogen, Dejavoo, Logica and Avalon to celebrate 13th birthday of the legendary psy trance label HOMmega Records. Agnes Klos put on her best psychedelic outfit and joined the rave on 19th November at Ewer Street Warehouse.
For all those clubbers who are not familiar with the Halcyon parties, let’s go back in time and remind them how it all started. The debut party took place in August 2009 at Matter. Shortly afterwards it was shouted a storming success and no wonder when the line-up included such artists as Astrix, Ace Ventura and Xerox & Illumination. The following parties consistently set the standards high, with Infected Mushroom among others gracing the bill. Renowned for representing the most mainstream side of the psy trance scene, The Halcyon crew is successful in bringing psy trance to a much wider audience. After the summer break, they returned in November with an even bigger and stronger line-up, prepared thoroughly with one aim only: to blow our ears away.
Undeniably, 13 years on the market is a tremendous achievement for any record label. To celebrate that very special birthday of HOMmega, a truly underground venue was chosen for that occasion: Ewer Street Warehouse. Located under the arches of London Bridge on Great Suffolk Street, the place is not a typical established club. It is more of a virgin party territory, which is extremely rare in London these days. With its brick walls, plain corridors and roughness of the interior, the warehouse has a very edgy and raw feeling to it. The venue has already welcomed in the past iconic names, with clubbers dancing to the likes of Eric Prydz and Paul Van Dyk. Even though for Halcyon the choice of the location meant a substantial change of the scenery as their previous parties were held at clubs such as Matter and The Fridge, the promoters did not have much trouble with alluring music-lovers to the unusual location in Southwark and filling the club up to the brim.
Spread over three arches, covering everything from psy trance, psy breaks, progressive, techno, minimal, electro, house and all things electronic in between, the party was long anticipated to be an epic event in the dance music calendar 2010. Kicking things off in the HOMmega arch was Matt Loraine playing back-to-back with Andi Leppard. Both of those artists started spinning psy trance tracks later in their career. The influence of their previous music styles could be easily spotted once you join the rave on the dancefloor. Whereas Matt began as a hard house DJ and later built a solid reputation as one of the UK's top psy trance DJs with a much defined signature sound, Andi Leppard initially mixed techno trance and only later in 2007 started to make a name for himself on the UK psychedelic trance scene performing progressive and full-on psy trance. The interesting hybrid of their styles created a perfect set to warm us up for much more delights to come.
Acts lined up for the event before the guest of honour, Astrix, also included Andy Forse from Mutagen Records. Some clubbers might have recognised him from events such as Psy-n-tific, Planet Angel and Magnetix. Andy pleased his fans with proper danceable tunes which were full of sublime psychedelia but also at the same time had a distinctive melodic edge. Next up was Pointzero Records’ Zeus who drew my attention not only at the Halcyon but also shortly afterwards during Roots and Chichime birthday party at Mass on 27th November. This hard working DJ and producer, who also runs his own label PointZero Records with Fabry/Metaphase, performed an amazing show, playing beats with equal amount of electrifying kick and sophistication. Just before Astrix took to the main stage, Dejavoo, a duo formed by Francesco aka Dj Kalimamboh (also Plastic Vibe) and Kristian (Transient Records DJ and A&R and Antiworld DJ), gave a smashing performance. Being a resident live act for Halcyon meant that Dejavoo knew exactly how to lift the atmosphere one level up. Flooding clubbers with their stonking, high-energy baselines and sizzling sounds created a perfect ground for next artist on the bill.
A massive roar from the audience shook the entire venue when an incredibly popular DJ and producer, Avi Shmailov aka Astrix , appeared behind the decks. It was his first gig in London since Halcyon last summer and everyone was waiting in anticipation to hear his freshest sound straight from the studio. The launch of his third album ‘Red Means Distortion’ turned out to be a huge success and was met with enthusiasm and heightened energy on the dancefloor. Astrix who is known for his audio clash between underground and mainstream psy trance has over years gained a whole army of devoted fans. During the HOMmega birthday bash he displayed a unique ability to appeal to all clubbers, regardless whether they have been following him for years or have just been introduced to the scene. His tracks were packed with atmospheric melodies, sprinkled with occasional but powerful vocals that united us all under one roof.
As an artist Astrix seemed very focused and precise, cleverly choosing a good mixture of old tracks with the new material. By dropping one of his most famous tunes 'Closer to heaven' he sent shivers down my spine. When I looked around the crowd, who at that point went into a total frenzy, I saw ravers singing at the top of their voices: "Just listen to my voice and follow me...I'll make you happy there and you will see". Once Astrix stepped off the decks I asked him what he thought of the event and he told me: "It was a great party. I enjoyed very much to meet up with old time friends and fans and play to a very warm crowd. The venue was very unique and captivating and hearing Simon Posford play there also added great extra vibe. Thanks to Paul, Sophie, Christian and Tara for supporting another great visit. You've added new value to the fact that the UK will always be an important territory for me." To finish off, another Halcyon resident and psy trance heavyweight in his own right, Phil Lankester aka Libra 9, impressed us with the technical skills and flawless mixing. His glowing presence behind the decks and excellent choice of tunes persuaded ravers to keep on dancing till the crack of the dawn.
Kicking things off in the second Arch hosted by AlphaOmega was Dino Ciancamerla aka Neutrino from South Africa. Looking at him mastering the decks, one could say that psychedelic trance flows naturally in his blood. The crowd could almost tangibly feel it once engrossed in his music on the dancefloor. Neutrino belongs to a new bread of psy trance DJ's, whose passion lie on promoting the fresh, driving progressive side of psychedelic trance (rather than dark). He believes strongly in this genre because he feels it can appeal to a wide range of dance music lovers bringing new ears to this fast growing scene. Taking London clubbing scene by storm just three years ago, Neutrino is the living proof that phatt and funky progressive sound has the potential of rocking hearts of all clubbers, regardless of their music preferences. I felt uplifted, enchanted and taken away by his excellent choice of tracks nobody else dares to play, such as for instance 'Devotion' by Liquid Soul, which literally melted my heart.
Neutrino was swiftly followed by a DJ who for over a decade has been shaping the new sound of trance on the dancefloors of the UK, namely Liquid Ross. Started off djing at the infamous warehouse parties of London, he has built his well-respected reputation for playing quality deep full-on psychedelic trance. His versatile style, Liquid Ross plays also deep progressive, techno and breaks, has taken him all over the world to some of the most prestigious trance events such as Time and Space (Mexico), Earthdance (Holland/London) and Glastonbury Festival (Scotland). It was an immense pleasure to be in his presence.
One of the highlights of the evening was definitely the set from Logica, the dynamic psy trance duo created by Alok and Bhaskar Petrillo, twin sons of respected Brazilian psy trance DJs Swarup and Ekanta. Their parents infected them with psy trance at a very early age and the sons started mixing when they were just 12 years old. Soon afterwards they started playing at such legendary festivals as Universo Paralello in Brasil. At Halcyon in November only one son appeared behind the deck but still he managed to fill the room with the distinctive sound of psychedelic techy trance which Logica is most famous for.
The party was already in the full swing and I was ready for a rip-roaring, mind-melting journey. The next DJ on the bill, Avalon, fulfilled the task showcasing a high degree of expertise. With his vast experience of having played in over 20 countries at some of the biggest festivals worldwide like Tribe, Glade, Universo Paralello and Burning man, he knows how to adapt to the crowd and play what the audience wants. The Avalon sound could be described as full-on psychedelic trance with expertly implied melodies, driving basslines, hard hitting percussion and evocative sound-design. Simple perfection!
If you like your beats to be trippy and rich with an equal amount of sophistication then the next British psychedelic trance musician called Benji Vaughan aka Prometheus, one of Twisted Records’ top artists, must have made quite an impression on you that evening. His set was characterised by high production quality, distinct basslines, intense thematic development and alternative approaches to the psytrance genre. To celebrate 13th birthday of HOMmega in style, the promoters also invited one of the scene’s largest legends, Simon Posford aka Hallucinogen. Without doubt he is one of the best goa and psychedelic trance artists who personifies the exceptional heritage psy trance has in the UK over the last couple of decades. His debut album "Twisted" as well as the subsequent one "The Lone Deranger" have been louded all time goa trance classics. Hallucinogen, who as usual wore his iconic hat with a feature attached to it, took us on an ultimate goa journey with no boring tweaking tricks or nonsense spacy sounds, just plain neurotic goa aural delights.
Headlining the AlphaOmega Room, Hallucinogen was supported by the psy-breaks pioneer Mood Deluxe aka Cameron Leonard-Schroff. For over a decade Mood Deluxe has been crafting his unique style of full-on trance and rollin psybreaks, playing his energetic trademark style of powerfull and intelligent, full on choppers. With the launch of his new album 'Hot Points', he showcased an interesting fusion of full-on psy trance, breaks, electro, techno and glitch, at the same time incorporating vocal and ambient elements into an eclectic and diverse sound. Mood Deluxe was definitely an artist worth staying for till the very end of the party.
The third room served as a chill-out area. It was hosted by Camden’s InSpiral Lounge, created by a group of event and festival organisers who promote a deep environmental message. If you were in need of relaxing and recharging your batteries, InSpiral Lounge was the place to be. The café served rejuvenating drinks and snacks to boost ravers’ energy levels and the DJs on the bill put together a kicking electronica soundtrack which was easy on the ears. InSpiral resident and events manager Ali set things off with a bang, followed by Mexico’s finest musical export, DJ Moon. Afterwards, Beckers who is now considered one of the kings of progressive beats, performed an amazing show. Tom Real found the perfect antidote for winter blues with his selection of tripped-out techno, driving electro and groovy house.
Unfortunately, there were a few problems with the event and the complaints were clearly audible among ravers on the dancefloor. Firstly, the arches were overcrowded and I heard people saying that they felt like ‘chicken in a factory’. The issue at that venue is caused by the fact that each arch is long but very narrow, which means that everyone is crammed around the DJbox with loads of space at the back. But to tell the truth, with international headliners booked for the event, the event was expected be packed.
The second problem was with the decorations. Even though the promotional advertisements promised dazzling visuals and the event to be ‘decked out with top of the range mind-bending décor, visuals, lighting and sound’, it did not happen. In my honest opinion, it was the poorest production I have ever seen at the Halcyon event. When I went to Matter for Infected Mushroom there were enormous psychedelic flowers hanging from the roof, horns adjourning the stage and projections on the walls. I expected extraordinary effort from the promoters as it was the 13th birthday bash of HOMmega. I do understand that the costs of flying and paying for the international names must have been atrocious but psy trance scene is actually the one of very few dance music genres which puts extra effort into making an event a proper sensory experience. At that party only the second room had a psychedelic poster and disco lights above the DJbox, which created a cosy feeling but there was not much heart to it. It came as a disappointment to many party-goers, it is simply sad that the event of such an epic proportion that took place in one of the best cities in the world had the décor limited to the minimum.
Thirdly, there was a major issue with the projector which displayed ‘No Smoking’ signs instead of stunning visuals. It clearly could not be qualified as decor and it was not really something that clubbers wanted to dance to at a psy trance rave. The venue was not cleaned during the night up to standards either. I had seen it in a perfect condition for Paul van Dyk whereas at Halcyon I heard the following comment: "I was in the middle of the dancefloor where there was a big pool of mud. The hole was so deep, that I actually tripped. You should see the state of our pants and shoes after the party. That's not a big issue considering most of us here are usual squat party goers. The biggest shame of the night for me was to hear Hallucinogen on such a shit sound system."
Finally, the security was extremely heavy that evening, with the security girl running fingers inside my bra, which I have to admit, was very uncomfortable. The event could have done with a much better chill-out space, bigger amount of seating, cosy decor and more stalls would have been a tremendous improvement. The bar was overpriced with £4 for a can of Red Stripe beer and long queues throughout the night even if you wanted just water. All in all, the music of the evening was of exceptionally high standards and every single DJ did an amazing job. It was an enormous pity that the promotion and production did not follow.
All photos courtesy of Agnes Klos and Janio Edwards. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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