Techno night Unseen aims to shake up Edinburgh's club scene
Special guest Adam X to appear in June
One of the first shoots of a clubbing revival in Edinburgh is emerging through a group of old-stagers returning home to one of the city’s most enduring venues. Together, Patrick Walker and Mike Lavin started off promoting a nascent trance night called Purple Moon at Calton Studios and the old Bongo Club in the early 90s, while Lavin and Neil Templar would found Dogma at the former venue (now Studio 24) a decade later.
Now they’re back on Calton Road with Unseen, a night which aims to reflect the contemporary state of techno. ‘Just now there’s an almost post-punk vibe in techno,’ says Walker, who knows what he’s talking about: he’s one half of the internationally-renowned Forward Strategy Group, who release their debut album Labour Division through Perc Trax this month.
‘It’s very dystopian, very crunchy, very industrial,’ he continues. ‘The tempos have been getting a little slower, it’s not as breakneck any more, and a lot of the bands are aligning themselves more with the darker edge of post-punk or industrial than with rave music. There are more real instruments too, the guys at the top of their game aren’t just using a laptop and some software plug-ins, they blur the boundaries of what you’d read about in DJ mag and what you’d read about in NME.’
This musical aesthetic transfers itself directly to Unseen. ‘Our vision’s firmly based on the quality of the music and not just booking DJs based on the fact they’re a big name,’ says Lavin. ‘We’re not interested in making money or pulling huge numbers, our whole ethos is about providing a night of the music which motivates us for an audience who will appreciate it.’
After kicking off with just the residents in May, the next instalment of Unseen sees the trio welcome their first guest, an artist who fits the agenda perfectly. Although the Berlin-based Adam X has a two-decade career playing acid techno and later a more minimal sound, it’s his ten-volumes-so-far Traversable Wormhole project that will be coming to Edinburgh: a once-anonymous production sideline that caused a storm of blogger speculation as to who was behind it and an extensive remix series on Chris Liebing’s CLR label.
‘The sound of Traversable Wormhole is deeper, less aggressive and more stripped down than the music I record under Adam X,’ he says, pointing out that this will be the project’s Scottish debut, despite the fact he’s played here more than thirty times and used to hold down a semi-regularly residency at Glasgow’s Monox. During his set, he jokes, we can expect ‘to travel via a wormhole through the past, present and future.’
Similarly noteworthy guests are planned for future monthly instalments, with a big surprise apparently in the pipeline for August’s festival date, although Lavin is giving nothing away. Walker cites the CLR and Perc Trax rosters as among his favourites, and also namechecks Blackest Ever Black, Ancient Methods and Tommy Four Seven. ‘We’re trying to present people who impress us with their current ideas, not their back catalogue,’ says Lavin, pointing out that a live set’s preferable to a DJ set at Unseen.
‘Edinburgh’s techno scene isn’t like Glasgow, where you can go to Pressure and catch Hawtin every other month,’ says Walker. ‘So we’re trying to bring a European sense back home, to do something that’s culty, but that’s also regular and reliable. That isn’t here today, gone tomorrow.’
Unseen, Studio 24, Edinburgh, Fri 1 Jun.