AND here’s you thinking festival season had finally been left in Stradbally with all the leftover tents and crumpled cans — but what about one more? Boxed Off is like that extra dessert you don’t really need but feels good going down.
The first edition of the dance fest at Fairyhouse in Kildare is billed as “one last journey before we head into the colder months”. It has pitched its stall from the off as an electronic music event that won’t stray too far from the underground for ticket sales.
Sure, headliner Nina Kraviz has plenty of pulling power and memorable Dublin shows behind her, but promoters Bedlam have taken a sidestep from the usual Irish festival reserve pile. It’s on a smaller scale of course, but Boxed Off takes a few cues from bigger European counterparts like DGTL, Melt! and Awakenings — heavy on head-down deep house and techno, straight in, no messing.
The stark industrial vibe of their web promo video may seem like a stretch for a racecourse in Kildare, but they’ve promised to keep your eyes busy with art installations and audiovisual detours between the four stages – all covered and weather-proof, just in case. And if you thought a one-day dance fest was a hard sell two weeks after the Picnic and well into the autumn, you didn’t bank on Irish techno-heads’ one-more-tune mentality – it’s well on the way to a sellout.
Here’s a few picks from the last big techno blowout of the season.
Flitting between deadpan nihilist verses, sensual slow jams and soft-focus deep house fuzziness, Nina Kraviz’s 2012 debut album was an antidote to the played out minimal clone wars. The Moscow producer takes a more direct route with her DJ sets, so expect insistent minimal, acid and techno and plenty of knockouts to end the festival with no questions asked.
Dense & Pika
British duo Dense & Pika hit the bullseye by calling their debut album Klank – a perfect metallic blip of a word that’s shorthand for their sound. With a bank of smithereen-like fizzes, tics and scuffs that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Autechre algorithm, this is beautifully rendered techno that hits the head as hard as the gut.
English producer Daniel Avery’s debut album Drone Logic is probably the most ‘festival-ready’ of any on the bill.
The 2013 LP is full of sweeping broad strokes and classic dance music signifiers – twangy acid basslines, clipped vocal tics, 808 handclaps, warm Detroit-style synth burbles. It’s never pastiche though – it’s a masterclass in sound design that forces repeated dissection. And his track Free Floating sounds like an update of Slam’s classic Positive Education, surely a good thing.
SOME of the greatest techno is made to bounce round the walls of an basement club and knock you into next week.
Sam Paganini defies this boxed-in convention with a spacey cavernous pulse that evokes an industrial warehouse or a hangar – or a big tent at an Irish racecourse. With releases on Cocoon, Drumcode and Plus8, he strikes it hard without losing the groove.
One of Patrick Topping’s biggest tracks is actually called Boxed Off, so maybe they just had to have him. The Newcastle DJ’s trippy deep house cut is his peak time ace, but he has plenty more where that came from.
His 2014 track Voicemail with Green Velvet is a shifty disco stomp that catches up with Velvet’s Answering Machine freaks and weirdos 20 years later, for the unlikeliest of techno sequels. His recent b2b with Jamie Jones for Radio One in Ibiza is another feather in his DJ cap.
Original version in Irish Daily Star