Techno is a genre of music which doesn’t lend itself to the album format, or even to the idea of ‘celebrity.' Daniel Avery is an exception to this, which is why his recent activity, the Slow Fade EP released earlier this month and an album on the way, has felt refreshing.
We are 5 years on from his stunning debut Drone Logic, a winning blend of Detroit techno, acid house and big beat. Although erroneously affiliated with the London Big Four (Jamie xx, Four Tet, Floating Points and Daphni), Avery is another beast entirely. What he lacks in their occasionally grating eclecticism (to quote that old chestnut: "I heard you have a vinyl of every Niagara record on German import"), he makes up for it in his willingness to push his sound to transcendent, monolithic levels. His gift as a DJ is his sensitivity among the chaos: he has mentioned in an interview that he wants his music to evoke the feeling of "when the outside world becomes little more than an inconsequential thought at the back of your head." The best songs on Drone Logic (‘Naive Response,' ‘Free Floating') were enormous, clattering anthems, but always maintained a warm melodicism which set them apart in a sometimes faceless genre.
Now he descends upon Bristol. Playing an 8 hour (!) set, moved from Marble Factory to the main room due to technical issues, he was on excellent form. The night started intriguingly with mellow stabs of deep house, with the same kind of stoned majesty Carl Craig used to do so well, before descending into more intense techno. With the odd female vocal fragment, Avery deftly moved from interpolations of his new EP to some fearsome breakbeat hardcore with the ease of someone with at the top of his game. Although there were slightly tedious flirtations with trance, Avery’s forceful presence and technical chops kept energy levels up. A nod to his disco-tinged, comedown masterpiece ‘Knowing We’ll Be There’ lightened the load to euphoric effect.
The audience were on curious form: perhaps a logical consequence of the mammoth set time, but there was a tangible sense of stasis and solemnity present. Perhaps this is a logical consequence of a genre which doesn’t invite body movement in the same way more straightforward dance music does, but I was taken aback by the general reticence. People within a 5 metre radius whenever a flash photo was taken certainly did get moving: that exposing beam was easy to mistake for the invasive flashlights of the security guards hammering through the crowds, dampening the vibe somewhat. Motion, as always, was freezing cold: outside, a spilled beer threatened to freeze onto the smoking area floor, yet the hordes of sweaty bodies in the main area meant this stopped being a problem. As I left at 3 (8 hours is a long time to stay sober for), Avery showed no signs of stopping. Bring on the new album.
Cover Photography: Festival Snob