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Rising clubnight Shapework keeps dance music culture alive

The Mash House, Edinburgh: 13th September

Shapework’s third event demonstrated a matured club night, establishing itself as a no-brainer go-to for dance music in Edinburgh. Starting off in small university rooms, Sholto and Ollie Cocris, alongside Cambridge and Edinburgh-based Crimzon, have steadily grown their repertoire and found their feet in a rapidly changing scene. Initially starting at Club 511, the monthly Shapework night settled at The Mash House, hosting the young Australian talent Mall Grab in collaboration with Overground and Crème Fresh back in May.

Shapework represents a burgeoning interest in Edinburgh’s own electronic and dance music scene. There is much to mourn about UK clubbing, but amongst the debris of Fabric, dance music culture is starting to be recognised as important in the UK as art. The zeal for music has not died but rather dispersed among others determined not to let this happen again. What a great example, therefore, to have this new crew in Edinburgh hosting Batu for his first time in Scotland.

For Omar McCutcheon (aka Batu) growing up in a quaint country town in Oxfordshire, Fabric represented the cross-cultural medium to meet early mentors such as Pinch. His focus on Bristol’s scene was a natural progression from his early interest in dubstep, but not where he stopped. His label Timedance is testament to this, driving a distinct techno sound in Bristol that acknowledges their roots, but also does not dwell on previous templates of success. On the night, he played a steady mix of his own material and others’, his floating hands tweaking at the controls of this mechanical juggernaut. Although claiming to feel “a bit rusty” behind the decks after a summer break, the reality was far from it. Showcasing some of the talent from his own label, Batu blasted out Bruce’s latest track ‘I’m Alright Mate’, highlighted on Joy Orbison’s Dekmantel podcast.

Batu’s close relationship with Hessle Audio guarantees a benchmark that can be expected. This entourage of dextrous producers and DJs are often as keen to promote each other’s music. This was reflected in a recent post by one of Hessle’s founders, Ben UFO, who stressed the importance of being receptive to other producers’ music. For Batu this manifested in seamless changes between thundering techno, from Stenny’s ‘Consumer’s Tool’, to the skittering pulses of Jun Kamoda’s Afro-house. With a change as good as a rest, Batu dropped one of the last year’s favourites, Axel Boman’s ‘Nokturn – Grand Finale’ halfway through his set. An engine just getting going, this feature was a nudge to the audience to show he was still very much there. Those who know Batu’s own production naturally associate him with his renowned single ‘Bleeper Feed’. Granted, his decision not to play it left many waiting, but there is a certain respect for artists who can still pull out a great night without having to fall back on their hits.

Talking afterwards, McCutcheon seemed far more coy than he had only moments earlier. Despite the fact that he has worked with an impressive roster of DJs and producers, his responses showed a modesty that you could not help but respect. On answering ‘what it is like to work with Ploy?’ all he said was that he sometimes does not do his dishes.

Photo: Shapework

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