Review: Escape 56 – The Henderson Project with Âme

Escape 56, a party series that is the brainchild of DJ Zig Zach, brought Kristian Beyer, one half of the German duo Âme, to Singapore last Friday and there was no way that we would be missing this. Having launched at Aliwal Arts Centre earlier on in the year, Escape 56 continued its eclectic choice of venue and descended upon the Henderson Project this time round.

With Maurice Simon and Mr Has warming us up for the night, we knew we were in good hands. Maurice got the party started at 10pm  with his deep/tech house tunes, easing the crowd into the mood with textured sounds and complex rhythms. The transition from hardware maestro Mathew Jonson’s “The World Will Come Around” to Kowton’s IDM/dubstep-influenced techno track “End Point” was a particular highlight. Mr Has soon took over deck duties. His preference for classic grooves brought the fast-growing crowd back into more familiar territory and he worked the crowd to great effect. By the time Maurice and Mr Has went back to back with harder sounds, the venue was reaching peak capacity. This was hardly a surprise given the overwhelming response and demand, with buyers willing to pay up to 2x/3x the original ticket price.

At around 1am, Âme took over control to everyone’s delight. Delivering his typical style, he was in tip-top form with his selection and mixing. If Escape 56 brought Âme from Berlin to Singapore, then Âme brought us at Escape 56 to Berlin for three full hours. From acid leads to sweeping synths, his tracks were as obscure as they were incredible. We still managed to find some recognisable moments such as the layering of the vocals in Rampa’s “Necessity” (“I just want to talk to you”, “Let me talk to you”) and the signature snares of Red Axes’ remix of Moscoman’s “Fernandez”, but these were the exception rather than the norm. In the last hour, Âme began to take greater risks in his selection, jumping from deep house to short disco leads to electronica, although the manner in which he pulled it off suggests they were not risks at all. With the clock approaching 4am, Âme rounded off his set to rapturous applause from the crowd.

For a party only in its second edition, Escape 56 delivered on all fronts. The venue gave the party the feeling of an alternate universe. It did not feel like Singapore to be leaving a techno party in the middle of a silent industrial area at 4am with a drizzle. Although the place is not usually used for parties, it was almost impossible to tell as no expenses were spared to transform it into a proper venue. In fact, the sound may even be better than one would get in a club with the premium Funktion 1 sound system and Rane rotary mixer. The light installations were also immaculate and had a transformative effect on the room. If we had to nitpick, it would be with the WAAVE app. Besides connectivity issues peculiar to the app on one of our iPhone, it was also awkward to have paid for a drink on the app only to be told at the bar that it has been sold out. But really, these are minor issues in a party that puts the experience of the party-goer before everything else.

Right now, we cannot wait for the next Escape 56 party in February 2017. Will it be at a port next time round? Maybe Frank Wiedemann will be coming the next time? You will have to follow the BLACKOUT group closely to find out.

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