Chris Liebing @ Chinese Laundry, Sydney (9/06/2012)

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While Chris Liebing was the headliner last Saturday night at Chinese Laundry, I need to open this review by saying the following: every now and then we get reminded of how brilliant some of our local DJs are. These guys give it their all week-in, week-out and typically get overlooked in favour of international headliners when it comes to praise. But then when they are placed either side of an international guest, just how high class they really are becomes evident to everyone in the room. Warming up for Liebing, Defined By Rhythm was the perfect example of this phenomenon. It’s not that Liebing wasn’t up to scratch (quite the contrary, in fact), it’s just that DBR was that good.

His was the perfect warm up set for a night of fist-pumping, sweat-pooling techno. Subtle and restrained where necessary, but with just the right amount of intensity to build anticipation and generate tension (the explosion of cheers when Liebing’s first tune dropped was immense, and a testament to that fact), it was a lesson in thoughtful programming. His mastery of the four-deck Traktor setup, commanded via slightly scary looking midi controllers to create a pastiche of sound from layers of individual tunes only served to augment the effects of his intelligent track selection and coax any wallflowers onto the dancefloor. Tracks from Ben Klock and Terrence Fixmer brought the intensity up at exactly the right moments, while hypnotic grooves from Echologist and Sigha pulled things back where necessary to leave Chris Liebing plenty of room to work his magic.

Anyone who has heard Chris Liebing play before knows what to expect: the guy doesn’t fuck around. “Relentless” doesn’t even come close to describing him. Another champion of technology, the CLR head uses two laptops running Traktor and Ableton, as well as two midi controllers and Native Instruments’ answer to the MPC, “Maschine”, to twist and turn loopy bangers into a wall of face-chewing, foot-stomping raveyness. Untouched, the tracks he plays are already not for the faint-hearted, but when the most ball-tearing aspect of each is extracted and combined with three other layers of thump via Traktor, you better be damn ready to stomp a whole in the floor. And don’t get me started on when he then adds additional layers of percussion and creates his own build ups using TR-909 samples via Maschine and Ableton. Chaos.

The set contained plenty of new material from CLR artists like Tommy Four Seven and Perc, as well as some current favourites from the likes of Planetary Assault Systems, but it was the cheeky nod to classic Australian techno with HMC’s acidic stormer Cum On in the final hour that firmly stood as the best track of the set. A quality four hours of unforgiving belters (and what’s scary is that he was apparently only just “warming up” and wanted to go on for another four hours).

Next stop on the banging train: Ben Sims.