Shifting away from the grandeur of the Albert Hall to the industrial intensity of Sankeys, Hessle Audio took over the Manchester institution in a mid-way highlight of the Transmission series. Alongside Joy Orbison, Boddika and a live set by Karenn, the label leaders unleashed an unrivalled night of hard hitting house and techno, harnessing their individual finesse into a solid, sonic punch to the gut.
Upon walking in the already heaving room one, the trio wasted no time in unleashing heavily-weighted thumping beats on an already boisterous crowd; in their marathon five-hour set Ben UFO, Pearson Sound and Pangaea mixed lighter cuts with darker and heavier techno with such fluidity, the transition between tracks so subtle and beautifully crafted that you’d be transported to a totally different rhythm without really realising it. It was during the early hours, too, where they were at their most experimental; Pearson Sound’s percussive selections – nodding to his earlier productions under the moniker Ramadanman – neatly complimented the more spaced-out elements, before being plunged back into riling, pounding techno. Hessle Audio are a collective so cohesive and tight that their ability to switch seamlessly between the three artists is indicative of their craftsmanship and solidity as a group.
Moving upstairs into the densely packed-out room two, we were placed firmly in the hands of the masterful Joy Orbison. The low and illuminated sweat-dripping ceiling trapped inside the room a heavy and claustrophobic type of intimacy, unmatchable by the main basement; within an atmosphere not too dissimilar to a pressure cooker, when Joy O unleashed Barnt’s brutal and militant Chappell to its maximum, apocalyptic impact the crowd response was correspondingly as raucous and electrified. Boddika then followed with an equally impressive selection of commanding floor-rattling cuts, flawlessly consistent with the set that preceded his. Yet again, Joy Orbison and Boddika prove themselves to be forces to be reckoned with.
Karenn – performing live – provided the only hour interlude that separated the two Hessle Audio sets of the main room. The duo (consisting of Blawan and Pariah) stood behind a deck stooped with hardware as they unleased an analogue-attack of distorted, relentless and raw sounds, gradually evolving but consistent in its density. Despite such a skilled display of live performance, its ferocity reached a saturation point near the end of the set, making Hessle Audio’s return to the basement a comparative moment of light relief.
Concluding the night with the last two hours, and with the exception of but a few garage-tinted moments, the trio narrowed the scope down to deep and unremitting techno, matching the pattern of growing intensity that characterised the transition from evening to morning. Whilst the night lacked slightly in the genre-spanning elements that are definitive of each of the Hessle DJs repertoire, the crowd were totally consumed by such driving and rattling rhythms. It was a victory lap of a label consistent in flaunting cutting-edge dance music, and as Ben UFO closed on a still strong 6am crowd, Hessle Audio have got us hooked on what’s to come.
Words: Josie Roberts