Dixon conjures melodic techno magic at Hollywood’s Sound Nightclub
Sometimes in times of change, we look for signals from higher powers that the path we tread is the correct one. Barely one week into a major cross-country move to Los Angeles, it hadn’t taken too long for my omens to arrive, be it in the form of eye-opening festivals on the shores of Lake Skinner or Animal Style fries at In-N-Out. But it was the discovery that Dixon would be gracing my first Friday night in the city that told me I had arrived where I belonged.
Those in the underground speak of the German techno artist in hushed tones. The Innervisions label boss – known to family and friends as Steffen Berkhahn – seldom steps foot on our continent’s shores, but his distinctive melodic techno approach and volatile combination of performance and production acumen has not failed to make an impression here. It’s safe to say that I was beyond thrilled to see the architect of my top track of 2012 live in the flesh in my new backyard.
Providing the opening sounds for the evening at Hollywood’s Sound Nightclub was Los Angeles’s Droog, a three-man collective that has released on such acclaimed labels as Crosstown Rebels and Sasha’s Last Night On Earth. Keeping things grooving and restrained, their collective experience showed in setting the stage for Dixon with a subterranean set that primed the expectant audience for action.
Cheers resounded through the club as the German master took to the stage dressed in a subdued gray jacket with black hair slicked over his right eye. Dixon surveyed the scene and executed a masterful vibe reset, layering Middle Eastern melodies over throbbing techno bass as the audience settled down into his set.
The Innervisions boss was extremely patient in his mixing, filtering down the bass and sustaining prolonged notes and held synth chords for repetitions on end before offering up elemental forms of release by introducing crisp open hats and releasing the bass filters. His down-lifters seemed to last for days, yet his breakdowns never grew boring. Dixon showed an affinity for triplet kicks throughout the set, backing pounding bass and buried phased out vocals in the mix.
As the night wore on, Dixon began moving into more melodic material with driving leads, showcasing a few of the lesser known Innervisions artists’ output through non-linear builds and groove-born breakdowns. He treated his technology like a technician, making finite adjustments to EQs and effects with a stoic face underneath alert eyes. Sound’s crowd was superlative, sticking with the artist through his long-winded valleys into euphoric peaks of electronic emotion while acrobatic dancers struck bone-bending yoga poses silhouetted by strobe lights in the elevated cages above.
When the night neared 4:00am, the crowd still had not cleared and the dance floor remained relatively full. I looked to my left and right and was struck to see scores of individuals with eyes affixed and mouths agape, every bit as entranced by Dixon’s sonic sorcery as I was. In that fleeting after-hours moment, I knew I was home.
Photos by Troy Acevado