A week's worth of club reviews :-)

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Here's my review of several parties I went to in Ibiza. Divertais!

Entry Uno -- DefMIX at Pacha -- ¨This is House Music!¨

After enduring a seemingly endless voyage to get here, I finally arrived in Ibiza this past Saturday evening. For once the late start times for the clubs here proved advatangeous as it gave me a chance to take a much needed siesta before heading off to the DefMIX party at Pacha. Known as one of the best house parties on the island, New York-based label DefMIX packs them in well into the evening and morning.

A rotating stellar line-up of DJs including Frankie Knuckes, Satoshi Tomiie and David Morales perform at the party, making it a must-visit for a true househead. Last Saturday, it was Knuckles turn and he delivered his usual blend of up-beat house. He was a true showman on the decks, encouraging the crowd to clap and sing along, draping a towel over his shoulders to wipe off the sweat pouring out of him, and high-fiving passers-by as the went down the main stairs of the club, which is also where the main DJ booth resides.

In the other main room, known as the Global Room, a line-up of talented Pacha residents kept the crowd moving with a more Balearic house sound. Upstairs in the Funky Room, local favorite DJ Pipi, with his trademark giant hat and natty dreads, played a great set of tracks that more than lived up to the name of the room. It was a nice kick off to my trip but something was missing. Last year I was fortunate enough to be able to see Sander Kleinenberg spin a 7 hour house set in the Global Room. There was nothing of that sort of special quality this time around... until 6AM when David Picconi took to the decks.

The change from Knuckles was dramatic both in terms of style and of quality. Whereas Knuckles seemed to be playing to the crowd, Picconi decided to show us no mercy as he unleashed one scorcher after another. Weaving in some of the new anthems like ¨Shiny Disco Balls¨ along with some great tech house white labels, Picconi was the star of the evening by far. By the time he played his last track ¨The Sound of Violence¨ at just past 8AM, Picconi established himself as a DJ that this reviewer will be keeping tabs on.

Part Dos -- We Love Sundays at Space

If there was one event that had been keeping me up at night in giddy anticipation, it was the Sasha & Digweed 10 hour marathon that was to take place at the best club in the world, Space. Unfortunately, like most things that we wait for with such anticipation, the reality was nothing like the fantasy.

After arriving fashionably late due to the lack of a taxi, I entered the amazing Space Terrace just as one of the residents was finishing up a fun house set. Soon, Sasha entered the booth to the cheers of the insanely packed floor. However, one was quick to notice that Digweed was nowhere to be seen. No matter, he was probably just going to come on later, or so I thought. The first sign of trouble occured at the very beginning of his set, as he launched from a very cool loop of a female voice saying ¨sounds good¨ into a nubreaks track only to discover that his needle would have none of it. Making a sound that resembled a screeching cat, the needle popped up of the deck and Sasha quickly scrambled to recover. Fortunately, he was able to minimize the damage, despite the catcalls from the crowd.

Sasha proceeded to play a very inspired, house-influenced set, weaving in tracks from his recent mini tour along with some old classics. Thankfully, he decided to keep the breaks to a minimum and surprisingly only played one of his tracks from Airdrawndagger. Yet, there was something missing, Digweed, who was still nowhere to be found.

Closing with the still amazing ¨Cowpander¨ he thanked the audience and then left the booth. The plan was that S&D were to go on at 1AM for the remainder of the evening but word soon spread that Digweed had the flu and would not be there. Still, Sasha would have to go on anyway right? At least that´s what one would think.

I entered the massive inside room of Space, expecting to see Sasha but instead heard the plodding sounds of Rui (aka Ruin) da Silva. Where was Sasha, or Jimmy Van M for that matter? The reconfigured sound in the club, which is simply amazing now, helped me enjoy myself a little despite da Silva´s fairly awful set. However, I was still hoping that Sasha would save the day. Alas it was not meant to be as it was quickly discovered that Sasha wasn´t even there. Disappointed doesn´t even being to describe what I was feeling but I decided that the best course of action was to get some sleep and head over DC-10 for Circo Loco in a few hours. Fortunately, that amazing party not only saved the day, it made my trip thus far. I was going to include that review along with this one but it was so good, it deserves its own entry.

Part Tres -- Circo Loco at DC-10

As mentioned in my previous report, Digweed was a no-show at Space so I decided to call it an early evening (well, 4AM), take a nap (or is it sleeping?) and head over to DC-10 for Circo Loco. The rest was a good idea as Circo Loco requires any and all reserves that you have in the tank left. DC-10´s unique setting -- a farm house right near the airport -- combined with a fantastic EAW sound system has made the Circo Loco party one of the favorites on the island. It was easy to see why.

I arrived at 11AM, which when when the party starts to really pick up and entered the dark, pounding sounds of the inside room, which is nothing more than a concrete floor, minimal lights and a DJ booth in a converted hayloft. As the real scene is on the terrace, I quickly made my way there.

The terrace was already fairly full, with the crowd in party mode as local DJ Tania Vulcano supplied the smooth grooves. At about noon, Vulcano shifted into a harder, funkier sound, which reflected the growing energy of the crowd. Vulcano was followed by the British DJ and Radio One star, Jo Mills. She continued the increasingly funkier pace and created a truly memorable set. Singing along with some of the tracks, dancing, waving her hands in the air, Mills had the crowd under her spell.

As the line-ups for DC-10 are never announced, I expected perhaps Vulcano to come back on or another resident. Instead, David Morales stepped into the booth to relieve Mills. Morales took elements of the music that had come before and then added a heavy dose of tribal to create what, until this point, is the best set I´ve seen in Ibiza this year. Completely in control, able to shift in and out of hard pumping tribal beats into softer, more refined house, Morales was jaw-droppingly good. So good that as I saw the next DJ shove his way into the booth, I wanted to try to plead for Morales to stay on.

It turned out that the next DJ was, in fact, Mauro Picotto. I was intrigued to see how his hard style would play in a house setting and was disappointed with the results. Clearly on something, Picotto never really settled into anything inspiring, which was ashame given the amazing sets that had come before him. It was now almost 5PM and my body simply couldn´t go on much longer. I found out later on that Circo Loco, which normally closes at 6, went on until 9:30, with Morales coming back with an even better closing set. However, with Cocoon to come later that evening, it was necessary to get some sleep before doing it all over again.

Part Cuatro -- Cocoon at Amnesia -- Death by Techno

There are some parties in Ibiza that are pegged specifically for tourists and other looky-loos. Manumission is perhaps the best example of this. Then there are parties that even the jaded Ibiza veterans still get excited to attend. Cocoon at Amnesia is one of those parties.

As I had attended the insanity that is Cocoon, I was able to at least prepare myself for the stimulus overload that hits you when you enter the club. Vath, much to my chagrin, was already on the decks, laying down a heavy techno track from his perch in the DJ booth. Vath apparently had started the evening with one of his more house-influenced sets but by the time I had arrived, this was certainly no longer the case. Acid line followed acid line as Vath created his usual blend of spacey bleeps and pounding beats. He soon gave way to the guest of the evening, Tony Rios.

A fairly tall man with jet black hair and a wicked grin, Rios, amazingly enough, decided to go even harder than what Vath had played previously. For over two hours, Rios pounded the audience into submission with overwhelming tracks. There were times where I thought that people would start breaking down and crying as the beats were simply relentless, not to mention the ultra spooky lighting, weird creatures running around and the giant blasts of kryo that shot into the crowd with astonishing speed every 10 minutes or so. Yes, Cocoon is certainly not Manumission.

By 6AM, Rios slowed down the pace a bit, mixing it up with tracks such as Josh Wink´s ¨Freak¨ and even a couple of housier numbers. However, as his set came to a close, he kicked up the pace even harder with an amazingly hard techno piece that left this reviewer stunned. Finally, at 7:30, Vath came back on the decks to the cheers of the crowd, which was still sizeable. He proceeded to play what could only be described as psy-techno over the course of the next 30 mins. This mini-set was by far the best of the night and was simply awesome to behold. However, what would follow would top even that.

At a little past 8AM, Vath suddenly left the booth and Rios quickly got back on the decks. After a couple of minutes, I noticed that the most of the crowd had turned away from the booth and was focusing on one of the go-go platforms above. There a man was hanging upside down and a security guard was hoisting him back up. I assumed it must be some random clubber but it turned about to be Sven Vath himself. Clearly on something chemical, Vath proceeded to put on quite a show -- attempting to climb up the wall of the go go stand, grabbing items from the VIP tables and tossing them down to the crowd, running around with his arms over his head being chased by security, just to name a few of the more memorable things he did.

Rios finally decided to spare the crowd its remaining energy and cut off at 8:30 AM. As the sun streamed into the club, a group of us just sat there and shook our heads as to what we had just witnessed. Techno simply doesn´t get any better than Vath and the magic of Cocoon

Part Cinco -- Perfecto at Pacha

One of the hard parts about writing reviews of the various Ibiza parties is that the influx of talent is so good that one can run out of superlatives. I mean, how many times can one right that a particular DJ´s set was amazing or incredible or awe-inspiring? Of course, this becomes much easier when reviewing a set that was anything but the aformentioned superlatives. Such was the case of Paul Oakenfold at the Perfecto party last night at Pacha.

Having never seen Oakenfold live before and also drawn by the main attraction (at least in this reviewer´s opinion) Parks & Wilson, I decided to forgo the increasingly depressing progressive sound of Renaissance in favor of Perfecto. Arriving at 1:30AM, I was surprised to find that Oakenfold had already started his set. Willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, I tried to keep an open mind about his set. However, the dated and poor choices -- the dreadful ¨Rocketman¨ remix, a poorly conceived transgression into nubreaks and the only lousy James Holden track ¨Nothing¨ -- made it difficult for me to hold back my inner cynic. Still, the crowd seemed to love it although I couldn´t quite understand why.

Oakenfold was certainly in top form, raising his hands out every few minutes, dancing (if you could call it that) to his own ¨Southern Sun.¨ Yet, I stood there unmoved by it all. Given the mindblowing evening I had before at Cocoon along with some of the other fantastic sets I have heard here thus far, it made Oakenfold´s try all the more pedestrian. Still, I had Parks & Wilson to hopefully make up for it all, which they most certainly did.

Shortly after Oakenfold dropped his last track, a somewhat euphoric trance track, Mick Parks took to the decks and changed the mood almost immediately by dropping the pounding Bedrock remix of ¨Chutney¨ My fears that the duo might play it safe due to the Oakenfold crowd were now alayed. Parks took it back down again when he did a couple of mini suites of various producers, including two tracks back to back from Sasha´s Airdrawndagger and three remixes by James Holden.

Mick Wilson came on after about an hour and made his more tech-influenced style known almost immediately. A whirling dervish behind the controls, Wilson got progressively harder as his set went along, culminating with some truly inspired techno stompers and some tough tribal house. Never letting the energy flag for even a second, Wilson had the remaining crowd dancing hard well into the morning. He decided to mix it up a bit in the last 30 minutes of his set from the glorious POB Seismix remix of ¨Human Race¨ to some more somber, darker almost symphonic pieces to close out the morning at almost 8AM. The night had been saved and this reviewer once again left a very happy camper.

Part Seis -- Carl Cox at Space -- Clubbing Nirvanna

A cloud of smoke drifts up from the decks, temporarily obscuring the DJs face except for the the familiar gap-toothed smile. He motions to the crowd to get ready as the intense bass fills the massive club. The build continues and people in the audience begin to scream with delight and yet he doesn´t stop or let up. Finally after a minute or so, the music kicks into overdrive with massive force and a wall of sound hits the clubbers deep in their chests. It´s 4AM at Space and Carl Cox still has over 3 hours to go in perhaps the greatest set this reviewer has ever heard.

The night began a few hours before, on the club´s famous Terrace. Opening DJ Will Grant played an absolutely perfect deep house set, slowly buidling the tempo throughout his allotted time. At first blush, this would seem a curious way to start a night featuring the techno god Carl Cox but it turned out to be just right. As Grant spun the Balearic house class ¨Beau Mot Plage¨, cheers rang out when Cox´s massive frame entered the booth. He used the Latin beats of the track to segue into a tribal tech track, which was a tad bit more subdued than what one would expect. This, however, would soon change as he layered a pulsating hard drum beat over the track and soon it was clear that this would be no ordinary Terrace set.

Five minutes later, the massive sound that Cox is so well known for was readily apparent and the bass began to rumble. Cox was clearly in his element and the crowd loved it. He gradually increased the energy and speed of his tracks until, about 45 minutes into the set, he unleashed a devastatingly hard techno track that had the big man himself jumping up and down. He grabbed the mike, welcoming us to his little party on the Terrace and asked if we were ready. The vocal sample being woven said that ¨pretty soon we´d all turn into dust, so get up!¨ and the audience responded in kind. The energy was so overwhelming that people had to stop dancing occasionally just to catch their breath. At 12:30 AM, Cox dropped another bonerattling techno track and then told us he´d see us inside in a bit.

Using this opportunity to try to regain my senses, I opted to listen to the sounds of guest DJ Jack de Marseilles from the comfort of one of the chairs on the Terrace. I was already spent and I knew that there was much more to come. de Marseilles started on a surprisingly house bent but by the time 2AM rolled around, he was deep into a hard techno sound. By 3AM, he was really laying down some nasty techno and some DJs would probably object to having an opener play so hard and fast. But this was Carl Cox and he was loving every minute of it. He cued up his first track, which was even harder and faster, and one could tell this was going to be something special.

The next 4 hours are somewhat of a blur as I´m still trying to regain the last bit of sanity I lost during that time. The combination of Cox and the new sound system inside Space was simply awesome. If there was any doubt in my mind that Space is the best club in the world, it was now gone. The large speakers were just capable enough of keeping the punishing bass from blowing everyone off the dancefloor. The lights, mostly strobes and simple colors, were executed flawlessly. They even unveiled a mini-kryo system for good measure. It was clubbing nirvanna.

As for Cox´s set, it was everything this reviewer hoped for and so much more. A culmination of every form of techno, from the more melodic influences to Latin-tinged tracks to filthy, acid 808 style, it was the work of a true artist. Cox was doing so much more than merely playing other people´s records. He was creating a symphony of sound and noise that commanded people to dance. And dance we did. This reviewer did not leave the dancefloor for the just over four hours Cox spun. It would have been a crime to do so.

By the time he came to a close, a reprise of an amazing track he had played earlier on the Terrace, it was almost too much to bear. The look on the various clubbers faces showed it, a combination of exhillaration and sheer exhaustion. The lights came on and Cox thanked the remaining crowd for coming. The crowd cheered for one more and he obliged by giving us the hardest track yet. Five minutes later, he screeched the record to a halt and left the stage. Cox had no more left to give, having left all of his energy (and ours) during perhaps the best four hours of clubbing ever.
loads of respect for this very thorough review - nice one!!

cox @ space is a blinder eh?? ;)
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