Aeroplane, Henrik Schwarz
The Belgians bring Belfast's damp summer to an electrifying end
Electronic music is seriously under-represented in Belfast. There's the bang and pound of the prog-house horrors, but little else. The city's inhabitants may be fans of computer and synthesizer-generated music, but promoters do not seem to reflect this zeal. Once every few months something in the analogue vein might crop up, then again it might not.
The last weekend of August was a whole different set of circuitry. As the last notes from the three-day Belsonic festival rang from Custom House Square, Belfast’s electronic heart jolted with a drum machine thump.
Three main arteries from across the city fed electronic inputs into this unseen organ. Radioactive Man arrived from London to play at the Menagerie, while Aeroplane and Henrik Schwarz performed at Mynt and the Waterfront Hall respectively.
Belgian duo Aeroplane are touring like possessed nu-disco men, promoting their long-awaited first album. Vito De Luca and Stephen Fasano - darlings of Eskimo Recordings - also played in Belfast's Black Box in March.
The sound, championed by the likes of Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, calls on elements of cosmic disco, cleans up the analogue with digital and throws in an extra few beats per minute for good measure. It is enjoyable, and has won Aeroplane legions of fans across the world.
Mynt, however, is not a venue for soft centered nu-disco zealots, no matter how much it wants to be. It is immediately obvious that most people are not there for any form of music. Many had wandered in searching for cheap alcopops and the chance of romance. There is a high chance that many succeeded, but such an atmosphere took away from the pleasant whirls of Aeroplane’s electronics.
Nevertheless, the pair work their magic. Lush nu-disco flows from the speakers, with dancers on the floor reflecting the electro passion. The duo were set for Letterkenny the next day, resting their wheels in The Grill: with the question circling, who is putting on these gigs and who do they expect to attend?
Henrik Schwarz was a much quieter affair in terms of crowd, but definitely not in music. The brightness of the Waterfront Hall's foyer was soon eclipsed by darkness and resonating deep house. Swirling visuals open the night, as minimal techno floods the venue and the ears of all inside.
Schwarz’s sound, easy to dance to with a hypnotic soul working the controls of its vintage analogue tones, found fame in Berlin. Blending styles such as the basic channel sound with deep house and minimal dub, Schwarz weaves a chord of magnetism throughout, with air and eardrums compacting under pressurised bass beats.
Deep house has always been a very headphone-centric affair, but opened up to a crowd it takes on a tribal conformism : the bodies inside the Waterfront may be dancing completely out of sync, but they're all dancing.
For a night, Belfast buzzed with analogue waves and a digital surge. It seems it was left to the men of synthesizers, laptops, and Technics 1210s turntables to bring an Indian summer to what has been a wet season. All we need now is more of it, but in the right location, of course.