Optimo (Espacio) Optimo (Espacio)Fabric 52
Without Optimo (Espacio),the club, the Glasgow night will be an orphan at risk. In April, a 13-year adventure came to an end, one that gave serious arguments for staying out late on a Sunday, with an imperturbable regularity, and going to work the next day with dark circles under your eyes, weak muscles all over, and an unbearable feeling of jet lag. But the experience was a fond memory: the possibility of seeing the noisy Whitehouse live, or the legendary post-punk band Liquid Liquid, whose song “Optimo” was taken by the club belonging to JD Twitch and JG Wilkes, and later closing down the club with a no-holds-barred DJ session, without fashion statements—it was a priceless experience. It was worth being tired for a day, because those feelings would remain with you over the years. The Optimo (Espacio)’s usual clients know this, and the creators have promised to get back on track—the British elections have already been held, so it’s time for them to make a declaration and take an ideological stand against the winners, who were the Tories that they insulted. But for now this work for Fabric is the final, definitive testament to a way of understanding the night, in which the first commandment is to value both the primitive and the modern.
Twitch and Wilkes are omnivorous animals who eat up vinyl like the Cookie Monster used to eat up cookies. They have accumulated a collection of music over the years that allows them to play in all kinds of spaces, for any audience, even the most demanding and knowledgeable. That’s what Optimo (Espacio) was all about: being above the clientelle without at all wanting to patronise them. On the contrary: respect was the basis for every night. Knowing that knowledgeable people would be there (people only sacrifice a Sunday night if they know why they’re going, and, especially, if they need to be there in spite of everything), they upped the ante by putting themselves in the position of people who pay to get in and sacrifice hours of sleep. Live, you could find LCD Soundsystem when they could only perform for twenty minutes –their repertoire wasn't large enough for a longer set than that– or a veteran of post-punk or minimal wave, and it was the same at the turntables. So JD Twitch and JG Wilkes had to tattoo a mantra on their arms so that they wouldn’t forget it while they laid down their direct, crude, exact mixes, always the old-fashioned way, with vinyl on the turntable, and great mastery of the mixer and pitch: “all killer, no filler.” Those were intense sessions, with surprises, with discoveries, covering the whole spectrum from early EBM to primitive synth-pop, from synthetic disco music to acid house, from Detroit to Leeds, from Berlin techno to New York house, and anything that happened afterwards that had enough tradition to be a candidate for going down in the history of dance music.
That’s why this “Fabric 52” strikes me as an effort to summarise over a decade of activity in eighty minutes, reviewing the last two decades and the one in progress. The task is colossal, without a doubt, but not impossible for Twitch and Wilkes. If they have shown us anything, it’s that they have the material, the technique, and the balls to put it all in the grinder and make sure that what comes out isn’t a shapeless mush, but a hard, solid block of sound. There are 22 cuts in a perfect circle. They start with the electronic protopunk of Fad Gadget and end with Xex’s “Heartbeat,” another of the discoveries of the minimal wave revival, and the middle is simply a crazy wealth of bass drums that arc upwards in the first section of the mix: Hi-NRG re-imagined for the present by Prins Thomas in his remix of “Cosmorama” (Discodromo), the narcotic techno of Basic Channel (“Q1.1”), Spencer Parker’s volcanic techno, the first splash of acid spit out by Locussolus, “Gunship.” Later there’s another song by The Minister with “Amigos Cómeme” by Rebolledo (a sort of South American remake of Daft Punk’s “Teachers” ) as a sort of a bridge, on the way to loping Cubist minimal (Altz, Thomas Brinkmann), disco-punk from yesterday and today (Rheingold, Capablanca & T Keeler).
Then the mix is broken up by a funky piece by Rosca and another afro moment - “Shacalao,” by Cumbia Moderna de Soledad, which is answered later with the drummer Crazy Cousinz’s “Inflation,” but it’s only a break, a drop in rhythm that is perhaps necessary to catch your breath and then take off again, because the final section of the mix is full of more galloping hypnotic sequences of primitive Hi-NRG (Roni Griffiths’ “Spys,” an original Bobby O. production), deep neo-Detroit (Levon Vincent, Oni Ayhun), neo-Italian (Desire) and hot minimal-pop (Matías Aguayo’s “Walter Neff”). That is the mix, and it’s a lot, because on one hand it leaves you with the feeling that Optimo (Espacio) has ended while it still had a lot to offer and many treasures to dig up, and on the other, it culminates in its own climax, making sure you want more time, another extra album. You feel a touch of frustration at being forced to end a night that is memorable, and some comfort to the spirit is given only by the memorable experiences gained. The truth is that they should be proud that the Optimo (Espacio) adventure has ended so well, and proud of this faithful point-by-point session-testament to its spirit. This text can only end with one word: thanks. Richard Ellmann
* Listen and buy here