The Mash House, Edinburgh
With Dax J’s allegiance to techno music scarcely spanning back two years, (his debut solo EP Shades of Black hit the shelves in November 2015) it’s no surprise that his sets borrow heavily from his much longer-spanning musical background: London’s drum & bass sound that characterised the city’s nightlife from the late ‘90s onwards. Scarcely caught playing anything lower than 135bpm, Dax channels the high-octane, ‘ravier,’ side of dance music that was prevalent in the ‘break-beat Britain,’ of his youth, giving it a much-needed home in the often pretentious world of 4×4 techno. The staccato kick-drums, dystopian vocal samples and drawn-out symbols in his production virtually tell his story better than words: that of a London-born techno-convert in Berlin, making waves in all the right places.
‘Pulse,’ will have been a bastion of Edinburgh’s nightlife for seven years come November, enjoying a well-earned reputation for bringing a menagerie of acts to the cobbled streets on a regular basis. From Berghain curators Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann to Ostgut Ton residents Ryan Elliot and Kobosil, in the last year alone, Pulse’s co-owners have carried the torch for serious underground music in the capital for years, doing untold good for Edinburgh’s reputation as a credible scene. This time Pulse worked alongside fellow underground collective ‘Disorder,’ who’ve brought David Meiser to the Mash House this year, and will be working with Pulse again to bring Spanish techno heavyweight Oscar Mulero there next month. Dax J, then, was a long-awaited booking from the two club nights that many of its regulars had guessed was perhaps only a matter of time: with three slamming EPs in the last year alone, several Berghain appearances under his belt, Dax J is the epitome of the kind of artists that Pulse regularly strive to offer its crowd of regulars: relevant, critically-acclaimed, sufficiently relentless techno.
The night itself far exceeded these expectations as Edinburgh was given its first ever treatment to the apocalyptic, explosively energised sounds of the Berlin-based producer. Selections from Dax J’s recent collaboration with Cleric, “Lost In Bermuda,” as well as his own latest EP Illusions of Power, sustained the frenzied energy in the room whilst cries of ‘one more tune,’ were gratefully fulfilled at the end of the night.
The difficulties in filling a room on the Cowgate are well-known – there often aren’t enough clubbers to keep all of Edinburgh’s nights comfortably afloat, this being doubly true for harsher, less commercial music. With this in mind, the sheer size of the crowd who not only turned up to Pulse, but clearly enjoyed the music as far more than a novelty, is a testament not only to the pulling-power of Pulse’s bookings, but also to the reputation they’ve nurtured over the years.
The other clear victory of the night goes to the venue itself. The Mash House, a long-time favourite for some of Edinburgh’s smaller parties, has rightly exploded in popularity recently as more and more promoters have seen it for what it is – an intimate, simple space with a killer soundsystem and smart visual installations. Pulse’s booking was brilliantly accommodated by The Mash House, with even bigger, better bookings to come in coming months.
Photo: Elite Management