With Dimensions turning five this year the festival felt a sense of responsibility to throw the most comprehensive edition to date and celebrate the fifth birthday in extraordinary style. The organisers have found a Croatian diamond in the venue - An abandoned 19th Century fort is grounded into a hill top stretched along the Adriatic Coastline. For the remainder of the year it accommodates responsible families looking for a quiet getaway. Dimensions has a slightly different clientele; 8000 attendees feast upon the venue to lose touch with reality and enjoy world class underground electronic music. Within the Fort are eight unique venues, each with different moods and characters; there is a beach stage for pre and day parties, as well as boat parties setting sail nineteen times throughout the weekend. The line-up of 2016 had a strong Techno consensus, however there is much more on show than just House and Techno. The following review offers a taste into the broad spectrum of music and stages available and considers where Dimensions may move into the future.
Kahn - Mungo’s Courtyard - 23:30 - 01:00 - Thursday
Kicking off the festival with a bass heavy evening was the 'Mala Presents' curation at Mungo’s Courtyard; with acts Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Kahn, Mala, OM Unit and DJ Spin. Don’t Panic take a closer look at DJ and producer Kahn – With initial influences from Punk, Rock and Hip Hop. He is now at the forefront of the 140 scene, with particular alliances to Dubstep, Grime and Dub. Part of the Young Echo collective, as well as completing work with DJ Neek under Gorgon Sound - The artist stays true to sound system culture with dub plates and vinyl used throughout his mixes.
Kahn performed to an energised crowd with space to shake and move freely. The open air venue arguably has the best sound at the festival, testament to the audio and visual team working behind the scenes. Kahn kicked things off with an overall spooky theme, utilising prolonged introductions to build anticipation for what was to follow. Early tracks included Commodo, Gantz and Kahn - AMK. Gradually moving to the darker realms of 140 he played - Mungo’s Hi Fi - Rules of the Dance (Kahn Remix), a drum heavy twist on the 2014 dubstep classic. The crowd then became immersed in the murkier selections it had been waiting for, with bass heavy drops becoming more frequent. As the set reached its peak, Kahn closed with - Mala Ft. Riko - Changes (Kahn and Neek Remix), the perfect invitation for Mala to step up onto a stage which by now must feel like home. A well-executed mix which I am sure Kahn thoroughly enjoyed.
"Hold tight Mungo’s Hi Fi, your family for life, run it selecta”
(Photo Credit - Dan Medhurst - Mungo's Courtyard)
Ben UFO - The Moat - 01:00 - 02:30 - Thursday
As one of the only truly successful DJ’s who has made it as a DJ without producing his own work; Ben is simply a man who has mastered his craft. Having played earlier alongside Pangaea and Pearson Sound on the Hessle Audio boat party, a label started by the trio in 2007, it was now Ben's turn to take centre stage of a packed Moat Arena. This was one of the biggest queues of the weekend, with a large majority of the attendees wanting a piece of the action.
Those lucky enough to be inside the high walls saw another demonstration of why he is one of the best on the circuit. With the ability to effortlessly mix a wide range of eclectic selections in Techno, Garage and Grime. The latter part of the set saw Ben slowly work in the high frequency synth to - Midland - Final Credits. Brought out in May on Midland’s sub-label Regraded, this is arguably the release of summer 2016. During the track I took the opportunity to make the 80-foot walk from the front to the exit of The Moat; the crowd was full of faces exuding elation and happiness, a truly beautiful moment of the festival.
“Because neither one of us, wants to be the first to say, goodbye”
Larry Heard AKA Mr Fingers - The Clearing - 01:45 - 03:45 - Friday
Larry Heard AKA Mr Fingers was one of the most talked about performances of the weekend, and for good reason, this was Heard’s first live show for over 20 years. A Chicago pioneer; famed for his mid 1980s Deep House and slightly later signature Acid House productions, the set was a journey through his glistening career. Warming a euphoric crowd with sultry sounds, songs included - Larry Heard Presents Mr. White - You Rock Me. Playing below a misty orange crescent moon; Heard continued to reach deep into the depths of House music’s soul.
An hour into the set saw the first example of the 1988 acid sound with - House Factors - Play it Loud. From this point on it was a fine balance between melodic beats and acid licks; tracks included Larry Heard Presents Mr. White - The Sun Can’t Compare and a resounding rendition of Larry Heard AKA Mr. Fingers - Can You Feel it. The set was a demonstration of the artists’ exceptional production which will live long into history. Heard’s overall vocal and live performance was exceptional and heart-warming; leaving listeners on a high that can only be reached through musical indulgence.
“You see; house is a feeling that no one can understand really unless you're deep into the vibe of house. House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body. And, as I told you before, this is our house and our house music”
(Photo Credit - Colm Moore, Leave No Trace - Larry Heard, Clearing)
Hunee - The Void - 02:00 - 04:00 - Saturday
Saturday night saw a Rush Hour takeover at The Void; head honcho Antal curated a stellar line up with Andy Lemay, Kai Alice, Soichi Terada, Hunee and Antal himself. As one of the most sort after DJs in the world right now, Don’t Panic focus on Hunee’s performance. His self-proclaimed goal is to enrich the lives of listeners, creating memorable musical moments. He continues to demonstrate a mixing style which seamlessly blends rare grooves from across the globe; famed for playing House, Funk, Disco, Techno as well as obscure International Edits - his Dimensions show piece was no different.
Hunee started with a number of tracks from African origin with rolling drums and Sub-Saharan vocals. One such selection was - Dionisio Malo - Dia Ja Manche - an Afro-Cuban track released on Analog Africa earlier this year. Known for keeping music close to his chest, you would be lucky to know more than one or two songs used in his live mixes; a testament to the passion and time spent finding rare records. Switching the vibe and developing a funky brass sound was vocal Afrobeat track - Robert Helms - Semele I Like It (Raphael Top Secret Edit). As the set developed, Hunee turned up the energy, playing feel good music that kept the crowd and himself grooving - he was evidently enjoying himself, creating an electric atmosphere. An engaging two hours, which for me were some of my favourite of the festival.
“Come on out here ya’ll, let’s get on the floor, I wanna see ya dance"
Boat Party - Feelings - 16:15 - 19:15 - Sunday
From experience, the best way to shake off the previous night’s debauchery is by setting sail. Don’t Panic climbed aboard the Feelings boat to find out more about the ethos behind the four-strong collective causing a stir in London’s underground scene. Music was supplied by Fina, Feelings Residents and Mood II Swing; accompanying the DJs on the mic was the dynamic Menendez Brothers. This guaranteed a fun-filled three hours including vodka pouring from the top deck; a ‘how low can you go’ limbo challenge and general hype throughout, ensuring all involved got in the party mood for the final day of the festival.
Feelings residents, Karl and Brian, delivered an uplifting set of Italo, Disco and sleazy House. Stand out tracks included the classic 1983 release - Mr. Flagio - Take a Chance; as well as - Syclops - Jump Bugs, a clean and tight Electro Acid slammer which had everyone on the boat going wild. The closing track was - Mike Dunn - Phreaky MF (Mike Dunn’s Original Phreak Mixx), an explicit vocal house track which has a guaranteed crowd reaction. With the first release on label Feelings Worldwide coming out on September 26th and many more to follow - expect a new generation of artists partnered with pioneers of the industry. Falling within the Balearic-Disco and International spectrum of music, this is an event and label to take notice of now and for the future. It is safe to say the feelings crew will look after you.
“I don’t wanna be a freak, but I can’t help myself”
(Photo Credit - Colm Moore, Leave No Trace - Feelings Boat Party)
The Stables - DJ Fett Burger and DJ Sotofett - 21:00 - 06:00 - Sunday
Sunday night included a showcase from DJ Fett Burger and DJ Sotofett. The Norwegian brothers launched the internationally acclaimed Sex Tags Mania in 2004 and have since completed a number of other projects. Refusing to limit their creativity to a specific genre, releases have ranged from Deep House, Disco, Minimal Techno, Electro, Synth Pop, Afrobeat and Psychedelic Rock. With such diversity, it made perfect sense for curators to programme the longest set in Dimension Festivals history, offering seven hours to demonstrate the depth of genres at the duos disposal.
The extended set included a period of analogue Techno jams and lesser known track edits including the groovy - Super Discount - Sinsimilla, Marijuana (TomekOsaMix). The overall vibe was good, but it must be hard to hold an atmosphere when the crowd is constantly changing. Rather than stay for the full seven hours I chose to dip in and out; dividing my time between Rahan's Disco set at The Garden, K’Alexi at The Void and Helena Hauff in The Moat. Returning to The Stables for the last hour. The festival was wound down with a number of ambient selections with long synths and melodic vocals, songs included Ananda Project - Moments Before Dreaming (Idjut Boys Dub). Closing to an intimate crowd the pairing teased back and forth between International Edits and well known Classics. The penultimate track played was 1976 Psychedelic Rock anthem - Steve Miller Band - Fly Like an Eagle.
“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future"
On the notion of time slipping away, this year’s festival seemed to pass faster and faster as the weekend went on. With the fifth birthday over, attendees departed with newfound friends and cherished memories. The overall music was exceptional. This is expected with a number of bookings at the apex of the industry, however there is something about playing in the unique Fort Punta Christo that brings out the best in DJs and performers. The general vibe was special, with a conscientious crowd who seemingly want to be at the event for the music rather than a status symbol. The future success will depend on which direction the organisers look to move. Commercialise and grow in size, potentially drawing the wrong crowd or keep it strictly underground with a limited capacity - time will tell. For now, it is safe to say Dimensions celebrated its fifth birthday in style. Congratulations on another successful year.
(Photo Credit - Dan Medhurst - Beach Stage)