As I gather the splintered fragments of my brain after four straight nights of EXIT Festival in Serbia, it has become apparent that I have seen more dance music in the last week than I had previously thought existed. There’s a reason top DJs love to come through Europe; the soundsystems and visuals at these things (and I dont usually care for gimmicks) are out of this goddamn world. Fedde Le Grand had giant robots. Steve Aoki managed to inflate a rubber dinghy and go crowd-sailing. Deadmau5 gave out 100000 masks of his likeness and recreated his own ‘V for Vendetta‘ moment. Groove Armada sprayed us with confetti while remixing ‘Superstylin’ way past their set time was supposed to finish. Are you jealous yet? Don’t be. I still can’t feel my legs.
In the weeks preceding EXIT, many people I met gave me tips on which international deckhead to see, since my knowledge of the scene started and ended in 2007. Coasting ahead by a clear mile was Germany’s Paul Kalbrenner, who seems to have fostered his own devoted army without my noticing. Swedish girls swooned over him. My new Italian friend said he was the best thing to happen to electronic music in ten years. As for travel buddy Jordan, well, she was pretty obsessed too. How could I not be intrigued? The man seemed larger than life. His soundtrack to the acclaimed film ‘Berlin Calling‘ is already considered a classic, pretty good for something three years young.
Because she’s the fan, I’ll take Jordan’s description first: this is emotional techno. I think what that’s supposed to mean is that Kalkbrenner goes for the frontal lobe rather than kicking you in the guts. He’s big on repetition and even bigger on nuance. Azure is a song that seemingly doesn’t go anywhere, which is fine because sometimes music can just be an immersive experience. Given that the rest of this festival was almost exclusively taken with the very un-musical tenets of the now-exhausted dubstep genre, Kalkbrenner’s understated sonic excursions were more than welcome. This is a song which grows slowly and never reaches the kind of fuck-off chorus that I previously thought mandatory in the wide umbrella that is this genre. I enjoy it the more I listen to it, and even though I’m not in a crowd with 20 000 people as the dawn creeps over the wall of an ancient fortress anymore, this will certainly suffice.
Sent from J’s iPhone, somewhere in Serbia
Paul Kalkbrenner – ‘Azure’
More deep, Kalkbrenner house here.