The eleventh Warehouse Project acts as a farewell to the Store Street sub-railway-station hotspot the event has resided in since its inception. The experience of a crammed rave in a warehouse is an idiosyncratic one, albeit purely referential to original acid house raves of the late ‘80s. Tonight is the most notable night of this round of events, with post-rave’s mainstream breakthrough artist Richard D. James drawing a huge proportion of the attendees (myself included).
Aphex Twin’s sets, musically, have a reputation for being hit/miss, content and style (and quality) at the mercy of not only the current atmosphere, but also RDJ’s mood and his hastily formed opinion of the audience; I’ve heard in the past tales of a flippant static noise set, alongside accounts of indulgence in his recorded work. Tonight, we are treated to a straight up ninety minutes of one-tempo techno, unvaried, possessing no obvious nods to his released material, and frankly the music is just not hardcore and weird enough. Granular scrapes and rattles scuttle like spiders over and under the four-to-the-floorboards, with rhythms often recalling the electronic music of Detroit and Chicago his stylistic zone is founded on – it's simplistic in a way that seems to pander to the mandy-addled masses, with very limited interest to those who perhaps expect more than frequencies to sweat to. Though not expecting or wanting a crowdpleasing set, the most fragmented reference to anything from Drukqs would have been much appreciated.
Where D. James fully redeems himself for the passive sounds is the outright mind-blowing visuals. As is well documented in the music press, Aphex Twin of late uses incredibly novel and entertaining face mapping technology to grab audience members’ mugs and treat them in ways as bizarre as you’d hope. As well as a sinister transferral of his horrible trademark faces (as seen in various music videos) on to the furthest forward ravers, he has a new trick of imposing the crowd’s visages, face-dip style, onto various iconic/pop culture images. Including: Margaret Thatcher, The Queen, the cast of Coronation Street, Teletubbies. A relentless political voice.
As for the other acts, Hudson Mohawke’s performance also proved to abandon expectations to disappointing effect, and the Zomby set was sonically unsatisfying as fairly lo-fi samples inhibited the glitchy beats, and one was hardly even compelled to dance along. Perhaps WHP sets are ordinarily toned down in experimentation like this, to cater for the non-audiophiles who attend for the social aspects and distinctive clubbing experience, but assessed in terms of each artist’s existing catalogue, tonight’s music could have been so much more interesting than it was. It’s a great shame that the highest profile night in the last Warehouse Project at this venue fell somewhat short in (non-chemical) stimulation.