For what has already been an exciting season for Printworks featuring a wide variety of artists across the musical spectrum, the end of March drew to a close with an all day party of unrelenting techno in store. It was a special day for the UK, as it’s not often you get to see such a heavyweight line up, let alone in such a gritty, colossal, and industrial venue like Printworks, made even more sweeter for us by partying alongside Zap Bang Magazine.
Ben Klock’s label ‘Klockworks’ and The Hydra teamed up for the third edition of the multi-sensory event in Canada Water, this time featuring Rødhåd, a specially commissioned hybrid Live set from KiNK vs Kirilik, and venue debuts from Dax J, FJAAK (Live), Newa, and Adiel, as well as the head honcho Ben Klock. Since it’s launch in 2017, Klockworks has presented Photon showcases around the globe at epic venues such as Berghain, Gashouder and Bassiani in Georgia. It combines sound, light, and architecture in unique settings – making the Printworks press hall an ideal venue.
For more info about the venue itself, including drinks prices, production & sound visit our Afterlife review.
Following progressively harder and heavier sets from Adiel and Newa, the first live set was underway – FJAAK. The German trio, now pair, delivered a no-holds barred live performance. Bringing with them drum machines and FX units producing live sound along with the use of analogue mixers, the Berlin based duo treated us to some dub-drenched techno, clearly influenced by the breakbeat and rave scene.
Unfortunately low sound levels did impact the experience, with some speaker stacks emitting little to no sound. However, the sheer brilliance of the duo’s talented display kept us glued to the press halls. FJAAK’s remix of “Missing Channel” received a fantastic roar from the room, as the bassline whipped the crowd into motion after a teasing and exciting build up. The tempo increased as the set continued and before we knew it the exhilarating hour was up. Next time we’d have loved to see the dynamic duo play for longer.
Next up as we delved deeper into the Photon underworld, was London born DJ/producer Dax J. An avid raver from a young age, Dax began his love affair with the underground listening to the UK sounds of jungle, D&B and garage leading to the aspiring DJ playing out himself on pirate radio stations at only 15 years old. After discovering techno in Ibiza, the artist never looked back, however developed a style which incorporated his early musical influences with the grittiness of European techno.
His performance at Photon perfectly demonstrated that energetic, raw sound which he’s since become famously known for. Raising the bar which Fjaak had already set high, the relentless tempo hit us without warning, leaving the crowd’s heart rate pumping. Taking no prisoners for the duration of his rocket fuelled set, tracks including the intense Occvltiz 666 rave cut of “Bassiani Raver” pulsated through the cavernous press halls, sounding like the gates to hell had been opened. Bravo Dax, we needed a sit down after that.
Kink vs Kirilic (Live)
Following an impressive performance from Rodhad, next up was the ever-evolving KiNK, who for the first time battled both of his aliases (KiNK vs Kirilik) live for what was the stand out performance of the day. A common sight in a club now is a DJ with a laptop. Yet, the contrast between the dynamics of the sound and the static of clicking a mouse has driven many artists to perform live, usually with music loops and combining these with visuals, and sometimes even silly dancing. In contrast, KiNK’s live set stripped back and simply exposed the sound – his set up of drum machines, analogue synths and launch pads (combined with the conventional DJ set up) meant every twist and turn produced an unpredictable, innovative and groovy result.
It was always going to be exciting watching a live battle between KiNK and Kirilic, and it was nothing short of spectacular. Grooving 808 and 909 drums thumped through the press halls, locking the crowd in, while gritty synths and basslines filled the air. Kirilik’s arps seemed to be constantly both ascending and falling in classic techno mind-bending style, while KiNK brought the beats back in the only way he knows how – funky and fun. His remix of ‘Acid Track’ by Phuture had everyone’s hands in the air, raising our spirits before we plunged back into Photon’s techno underworld for the closing act.
Closing the show was the luminary himself behind Photon, Ben Klock. Regarded as a symbol of techno by fans and peers alike, the Berghain resident of 19 years has devoted his life to the genre having also released his own label Klockworks in 2006 to showcase a more minimal and uncut side of techno. As he took to the stage, piercing white lights emerged through a black canvas which had remained dormant the entire day, along with a single spot light facing down onto the decks, illuminating Ben Klock as the Photon finale began.
Drawing on more stripped-back selections yet still keeping the tempo high, Klock switched up the vibe in the room to draw the curtains of his return to Printworks. Vladimir Dubyshkin’s hypnotic track “Machines Behave Badly”, out on Nina Kraviz’s label; Trip was a perfect example. The sinister beat crafted a hallucinogenic atmosphere, leaving the crowd feeling like we’d been sent into a gloomy abyss with no escape, as the show entered its dying moments.
A rare London showing of the leading lights in European techno, as Printworks continue to bring true champions of the underground to the capital. 11 hours of raw, gritty sound from Photon doused the press halls in the essence of Berlin, with the genre proving which sounds the venue is clearly most suited to. Sound levels earlier in the day were noticeably low, which did dampen the experience at points, however the sheer force of the soundtrack to the day made this one we won’t be forgetting soon. 9/10
Fancy getting your Printworks fix? Well, be quick as the venue closes its doors for the summer very soon. However, you can catch another techno heavyweight this month as Stephan Bodzin lands in London on April 19th – Final tickets here.
Ben Lovejoy & Eliot Harris