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Optimo fall short of excellence with safe live set

The Mash House, Edinburgh

23 September

Hailing from Glasgow’s infamous Sub Club, a cultural heritage site oft-revered, JD Twitch and JG Wilkes together form Optimo. Their weekly Sunday nights drummed up punters over the course of 13 years. The creative nature around Sub Club’s ethos propelled Optimo’s reputation as being unpredictable behind the booth but still reliable for the dance floor. Sharing in each other’s success, Sub Club is now again in the world’s spotlight with a month’s stay from Resident Advisor. Meanwhile, Optimo seems ageless alongside their die-hard fans and pink-faced freshers.

Perhaps more accustomed to Glasgow’s later starts, the venue only begins to fill up from 1am. They do not waste any time easing the crowd into the night either, instead skipping along the electronic spectrum with the sci-fi sounds of Lost Scripts’ ‘S.O.P.’ to the heavier horns of Trikk’s ‘Proto-Rhyt (Black Version)’. Green light washes over the audience, silhouetting a birthday balloon that bobs at the front, propping up an ecstatic quadragenarian. The man next to me, donning an ‘Optimo Espacio’ t-shirt seems to know every track they play, reaffirming suspicions that he had seen them play enough times to figure out their formula.

JD Twitch and JG Wilkes swap round as they see fit. Their track selection gives none of it away, as they both seem comfortable with either acid house and funk classics. JD Twitch’s African-influenced rhythms are rooted in his label Autonomous Africa. With each record raising funds for a different African charity, he has worked with like-minded producers such as Midland, Auntie Flo and General Ludd. Along the same thread, Optimo revisits Jun Kamoda’s ‘Clay’ after airing it on their latest NTS Radio recording. The same track had been blasted in The Mash House only a couple of weeks before by Batu. These moments of musical discursiveness are refreshing, however could be explored in greater depth. The duo only dip into these styles, momentarily opting for a safe selection of house and techno; a little disappointing, considering their reputation for breaking the mould.

Optimo bring a solid house and techno night to a crowd of enthusiastic house and techno lovers. Their use of tracks like Midland’s ‘Final Credits’ and Fango’s ‘Rectum’ show their understanding of current favourites. Yet playing on safe ground mean that the duo’s reputation for exploration is sadly not lived up to. A great night, and a fantastic dance, but alas it was not a set that will end up in the history books.

Photo: Optimo

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