Cocoon @ AMnesia – A Reflection

Art & Culture

Cocoon at Amnesia really is one of the beasts of the Ibiza party calendar – I’ve never seen it anything less than jammed to the rafters, or whatever they are at Amnesia (bamboo stalks probably).  This time was no different.  Sven Vath and Marcel Dettmann were in charge of German Techno matters in room one, but it was the Dixon, Ame and Loco Dice combo in room two that got me excited and inspired me to make the trip a few hours of glorious melody followed by a relentless lesson in percussion from Mr Dice would be absolutely ideal, I thought.

And that’s basically what happened.  You can stop reading now and already, you will have the gist of how the night went; but you will miss various additional information, such as how it is possible to crash a car en route to Amnesia by wrongly assuming that a billboard poster is depicting something real, and also how to persuade a Spanish bouncer that the white powder he found in your pocket was actually salt.

We’ll start with the car crash – I was reminded of this story on my way to the club thankfully I was not involved in it, although a bit of me would have been quite proud in the event.  So Jamie and Stott are driving to Amnesia one summer night in the mid 90s, and in what must have been a state of complete obliteration, they saw what they thought to be a housing estate and an arrow beckoning them towards it; but it was only when their car careered off the road and fell into a giant storm drain that they realised there was no right-turn after all, and that it was merely a poster.

Or maybe they didn’t even realise then – I will have to ask them to clarify whenever I see them next.  They did eventually abandon the car and walk to Amnesia – I remember that much.  But what bothers me is the wider logic that underpinned their decision to turn right.  Firstly, there’s the very idea of an Ibiza “housing estate”.  That the government could have decided that it would be good for the island to build a load of affordable housing on the main road to Amnesia I mean, who would be the beneficiaries of this?  The key-workers on the island maybe?  Would DJ Alfredo at least have the guarantee of a bungalow quite close to work if it all went tits up for him?

And secondly, why was it a good idea to visit this Balearic housing project in the first place?  Again, clarification needed.

So anyway, after my comparatively uneventful journey to Amnesia, it was Dixon-time.  What struck you immediately was melody.  In his set there was not one track that didn’t have an obvious lead line and a range of glorious pads behind it.  “I’ve never heard music like this in my life,” said my delirious mate Dan, whose first ever experience at Amnesia had propelled him into the land of generic dancefloor nonsense.

“Danny Howells” was my response.  He thought I was joking, but I stand by it completely.  And I meant it as a compliment.  Dixon was essentially playing a slightly updated version of a Global Underground sound from yesteryear a tad slower maybe, but it’s basically doing the same job of consuming people with melody and long breakdowns, with even longer build-ups beforehand.  Always a winning formula, unless of course you happen to be an English DJ that dared to have any success in the 90s then it is perceived as a crime against humanity, or as it’s more commonly known, “Progressive House”. 

If you don’t believe me, listen to this nice Dixon rework that featured halfway through his set:

Then it was time for Ame, and also, it would seem, time for me to get chucked out.  Collared by the bouncer as I was leaving a toilet cubicle, he barked in broken English: “all drugs out of the pocket.”  I put five capsules on the table by the sinks.  He thought he was quids-in – he’d picked a winner.  “But they’re salt capsules,” I said.  He didn’t seem to understand.  And nor did I understand the Spanish for “errr, well, I played football last week for the first time in seven years; my thigh muscles are still knackered and they keep cramping up whenever I dance, so I need these.”  By now a crowd had gathered around, watching my protestations, and my hand signals trying to simulate a salt seller.  

The bouncer split open one of the capsules, and a load of white powder fell out onto the table.  Everyone thought I was a goner.  

But I kept protesting “taste it”, I said, “taste it!!”.  

“I do not taste” he replied.  But eventually he did, and sure enough, the white powder was indeed salt.  He was fucking gutted.

Other electrolyte supplements are available

With a look of disbelief, he handed the capsules back to me and I was back in the game; and what a game it had become.  In the time it had taken to deal with the salt incident, Frank Wiedemann of Ame had come on and taken it up a notch or two.  Still nice and melodic, but with a bit more percussive momentum.  All through the set you could hear drum fills/rolls that sounded like semi-automatic gunfire – the place was going right off; just like Wiedemann himself, who was jumping around and sweating like a madman throughout, and beating the shit out of his APC controller.  I didn’t know any of the tunes, and neither did Shazam, so you’ll just have to take my word for what it sounded like; and it was basically a more intense version of what Dixon had done before.

I’m sure Dixon had all of this in the locker, but for the sake of good programming he kept a lid on it; the upshot was that it was effectively a five hour crescendo across three different sets.  It was only in Dice’s second hour that there was even a hint of taking anything down, and that was only temporary.  And also, Dice had clearly crept up a couple of BPM during his first few tunes, which included the legendary Derrick Carter – Where You At? what a pleasure it was to hear that again.

It’s hard to put into words how much of a king Loco Dice is at the moment.  The crowd were chanting his name like a football crowd as he was coming on – he absolutely owned the place – and don’t forget, this is with Sven Vath headlining the other room.  He basically dispensed with all the melody that had gone before, but it made sense at that time in the morning.  It was relentlessly percussive – it’s all about driving-rhythm with Dice.  He has this knack of sustaining people’s interest with tracks that, on their own, would seem quite basic, but each one just turns the screw that little bit more – just an extra little rattle on the off-beat here, a couple of mad drum-fills there – and before you know it, you’ve become a sweaty mess, crumpled against a pillar on the corner of the dancefloor.

6:30am, and Dice had set the stage for generic-Dan: “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen,”  he proclaimed.  “But Dan you said that in Space last night.”  

“No no, this really is the best music ever.”

Or did it just sound a bit like Danny Howells?

Mike Boorman