Science of Sound @ SPACE, Sydney (24/04/04)

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Skazi: in the world of Psy Trance, you either love him or you hate him. His tracks are some of the most recognisable in Psy Trance – if you’ve been to a Psy Trance party in the last couple of years you’d have surely had a sample. With 2 Skazi albums under his belt – Animal (Shaffel, 2000) and Storm (Shaffel, 2002) – as well as several mix albums and countless compilation releases, remixes and unreleased (but widely heard non-the-less) tracks, Israel’s Skazi is one of the biggest names in Full-on Psy Trance today. His dark, metallic and energetic sound lies easily in the more accessible realms of Psy, meaning that many of the jaded psy connoisseurs turn their nose up when his name is mentioned, while for many less familiar with the genre Skazi is often one of the artists that inspired their initial interest in Psy Trance. This was his first performance in Sydney, so there was plenty of excitement and speculation about how “Skazi trance”, as the artist himself likes to call it, will translate into a live performance from the man himself.

When we arrived at Space nightclub Raptor was just at the tail end of his set and was followed by a live session from Illusion Of Self, one of Melbourne’s finest Full-On producers. Raptor set the night’s course for the eye of the Skazi storm and IOS, the last Aussie before the advent of the Skazi juggernaut, continued in like spirit, showering the crowd with a torrent of psyclones of his own.  The cascade of psychedelic jabs that whooshed and whirled over the dance-floor got a bit too busy and overwhelming for my ears at times, but it was quality stuff none-the-less and the dance-floor was fast filling up with sweaty stompers as Skazi time approached…

Quick mental exercise – pick an electronic artist whose music you are familiar with and try to imagine what kind of music he/she would have played before electronica changed all the rules. The reverse application of this exercise to the singer of an 80’s thrash metal band will give you some idea about the man and the music that is Skazi. Locks of dark long hair fall over his shoulders and donning a singlet bearing his own name on the back, jeans, piercings and a demon tattoo on his arm, Skazi evidently had not let go of his punk/metal background, and as expected, this shone through in his music. The sound was a dark, ceaseless and in-your-face pounding, with frequent barrages of heavy metal guitars shredding through the dance-floor, which at these times started to resemble a moshpit, hundreds of fists pumping the air above a sea of sweaty grins. Amongst the choicest moments were a remix of Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” (have I mentioned 80’s thrash metal?), a remix of Benny Bennassi’s “Satisfaction” (the soundtrack to the cheeky adventures of the thirsty tongue in “that” beer commercial) and Skazi’s own widely remixed hit “Fire and Ice”.

I must say, I love hearing guitars in Psy Trance, as long as the riffs are not cheaply thrown into otherwise uninspired tracks and the guitar tracks are not thrown at you one after the other.  More often then not the metallic Trance tracks are full power irruptions, useful for energy peaks in sets. Unfortunately, these tracks are often gimmicky and grow familiar and “old” very quickly. Having said that, my verdict is a definite thumbs up to the way Skazi used the guitar tracks and put most of his set together. The only criticism is that the “relentness-ness” (and I have not spoken to anyone who’s been able to describe his set without using the word “relentless”!)  of his hammering sound did start to tire me in the second half of the set, when I was hoping to hear a bit more spice and space. After an early peak the set seemed to reach an energetic plateau and shed some of its more diverse elements. A lot of people seemed to share this mood, as the dance-floor visibly thinned out towards the end of Skazi’s performance. It was by no means anywhere close to emptying however, and it was more likely the dancers started to take breaks to rest from the onslaught, as I did, rather than escaping it.

No Msg followed on from Skazi with more twisted full-on night time sounds, but it was time to give our ears and legs a rest, before heading over to the after-party, which was held at The Globe, right across the road from Hyde Park. The venue was an excellent choice for the after-party and hopefully it will be used again. Well lit (which worked very well for a morning party), comfortable, not too crammed, with decent sound and good location, it was a great setting to wind down from the night and have a bit more of a dance to some groovier sounds, mostly more on the progressive side of Psy.

A special mention has to be made of the excellent visuals at Space. I am not generally one to pay attention to visual screens, but a couple of times when I did sit down for a break the visuals caught my attention and I noticed how well they fit the music and enjoyed watching the original and fun themes swirling in front of me. Two thumbs up to Eskatonia! In fact, the whole front of the main room looked excellent, with the 3 screens towering above and fluorescent banners filling the rest of the space.

Oh yeah, one last thing – that sound system at Space. Four walls of sound, one in each corner of the dance-floor – beautiful.  More of that please!

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