PLAYdifferently’s ethos is simple: the tools used to mix and perform should be as creative and unique as the artists that use them.
Brainchild of Allen & Heath specialist Andy Rigby-Jones and music tech maestro Richie Hawtin, (and in conjunction with the event) the MODEL 1 “performance instrument” has now been toured all around the world, allowing artists to achieve stunning fluidity and unparalleled individuality in their sets - so when this touring exhibition collided with the hulking and scene-reviving Printworks, magic was destined to happen.
Despite a well of unplanned set changes and cancellations due to poor weather conditions (Richie Hawtin, Chris Liebing and Benjamin Damage all being unable to attend), the venue dealt with the untimely hand in professional and informative grace. Rolling updates were dispensed through socials and throughout the venue on clearly marked signs; a testament to the organisational wizardry of those behind the event.
Hats off must also be had for the DJs caught in the swirl of it all, their patience and virtue aiding in the night’s smooth passage. Luciano in particular stepped up to the play in spectacular fashion, bringing an impromptu 4 hour + set to the main room, working all facets of the techno sphere.
From eerie soundscapes into low, fierce sub-bass rollers and harsh kicks, cut amongst the lighter groove-ambience of tracks like ‘Octagonal’ as the performance progressed. An engaging to and fro between styles that never wavered.
Ahead of Luciano’s taking of the reigns, Nicole Moudaber was far less forgiving on the techno front. Evoking the crowd with her relentless, dark and schizophrenic selections; strewn with mechanical clicks, distorted vocals and immense, hysteria-inducing build ups, the industrial aesthetic of the old print factory became expertly personified in the music. Anticipation in the room reached dizzying heights when Moudaber’s own sinister remix of ‘Giv Me Luv’ erupted through the venue.
The production in room one - otherwise known as the Press Halls - was itself a feat to behold. Girders and old machinery hang tangled overhead. The elongated rectangular dance floor leading up to the booth awash with glitchy spotlights, 3D visual-mapping and complex meshes of high-focused colour changing lasers. The dazzling light show illuminating the sheer length and scale of the strip.
In the smaller room or Chargebay, the mood offered something much more intimate and rudimentary, a welcome respite from the intense light work of the main strip. Here the MODEL 1 competition winners performed to an early bird crowd, followed by Fabio Florido.
Rebekah (much like Luciano) also took on some extra hours in light of the weather disruptions; agitated, acid tinged techno dubs filled the tight, low-ceilinged area, passed through a calculated VOID engineering soundsystem. Tracks like ‘Paretos Law’ seeming gifted for the borderline claustrophobic basement-esque vibe.
Where so many events could have been marred, or outright failed, Printworks with PLAYdifferently at the helm persevered. A well-founded buzz still hangs around the venue almost a year from its big reveal; the secure future of London’s club scene has long been met with scepticism and uncertainty but a bastion of light at least can be found here.
There are seldom other places more suited to show off a new device like the MODEL 1, tragic then that some of its key ambassadors (and creator) could not be in attendance to savage the dancefloor too - someone get on the phone to Richie, cos there’s always next year.