Rephlex Allstars @ Scala, Kings Cross, London
Friday 11th June, 1999
By Sheikh Ahmed
God know's what to expect on a night like this. Rephlex's prevailing 'Fuck Off' attitude to everyone concerned has earned them the reputation of being difficult and tonight will be no exception.
Arriving at the (virtually empty) club, we see Mike Dred AKA The Kosmik Kommando dispensing tough beats of the Jeff Mills variety. Mention must go to the stage setup, there is a desk with what looks like a Desktop PC and a Mac laptop surrounded by sequencing hardware and wires, it looks like some computer workshop and indeed at times it sounds like it.
Mike's beats eventually took their hold and some of the more wierder elements of the crowd decided to venture out onto the floor (including me). By the time Mike had finished his set of old-school rave classics, fucked-up electronica and breakbeats, the floor was suitably full of oddball skaters, old-skool ravers and cute Japanese girls (!?). The time had come for Rephlex newcomer Ovuca to take centre stage.
What followed was a pretty amazing sight.....a young looking guy with shoulder length hair and permanent grin manically runs around the stage, repeatedly tending to the hardware, frequently screaming into the microphone, occasionally hurling himself into the audience and generally dancing spasmodically to his own demonic creations. Some would say a wild mixture of loose experimental electronica fused with drill'n bass rhythms and polydistortion.....others would say it's all a big piss take. either way you're left feeling quite exhausted as he continues this spectacle for a full hour. Undoubtedly the star of the whole evening.
Anything after Ovuca's incredible set would need to be pretty impressive and major Rephlex artist Cylob aka Chris Jeffs has an admirable attempt. His own unique brand of electro veers towards pure pop and this is evident with the recent single 'Rewind', the catchy melodies and vocodered vocals make this an impressive start and the quality is held throughout. More accessible than Ovuca's output but slightly less satisfying.
Ed Upton is up next and he records for Rephlex under the title of DMX Krew, filtering the voice through a vocoder as he goes. Quite hard and brutal at times, his screams and yelps of encouragement do their trick as he also dances spasmodically (what is it with these guys). He occasionally ventures into hard techno territory with a couple of devastating cuts but for me its the old-style electro that always wins. The set ends with the whole stage being invaded.
It's time to get weird again with the strangely named Bodgan Raczynski. His set seems to be a mixture of live knob twiddling and DJ'ing. Not sure how that works but it does. Short three minute bursts of incredibly fucked up techno are his set and his permenantly pained expression as he kneels before the hardware before him seems to suit the punishing beats he delivers.
The final act for tonight is the mysterious D'Arcangelo. Italian twins Fabrizio and Marco D'Drcangelo sit intently behind their PC as their intricate and complex sound washes over the exhausted crowd. The avant-garde nature of the opening twenty minutes eventually give in to harsh brutal industrial rhythms. The pace picks up even further as drum'n bass-style beats begin to cut their way through the thick ambience and crowd pick up on this and full movement is restored. They end with pumping tech house until thirty seconds in they abruptly stop and bugger off. Showmanship, eh?
I've kind of ignored Rephlex's output of late, mainly because there is so much of it. But after tonight's incredible display I'll probably end up checking out the 'Shipwreck' album by D'Arcangelo and 'Boku Mo Wakaran' / 'Samurai Math Beats' albums by Bodgan Raczynski. Oh, by the way Richard James (the Aphex Twin for those that don't know) was DJ'ing somewhere here, but we somehow missed him.
"One of the most dementedly enjoyable nights I've ever experienced in London. At the time I was working for a Jazz music publisher so I'd decided to treat my collleagues to this. For many it was their first ever rave. Needless to say the looks on their faces was priceless. Still to be fair they did ended up dancing their tits off. And don't ask about pictures. I took loads but my fucking camera got nicked out of my pocket the day after in Covent Garden."