- Brewski Beats
The entrance to The Observatory at Constellations, with its Georgian window frames and traditional, dark green paintwork, may looks like the Old Curiosity Shop but over the threshold all is the epitome of urban/industrial chic – even the heating units are throwing great, abstract shapes. Reclaimed timber and candlelight combine to provide a solid, minimal vibe. A solitary Indian wall-hanging hints at the exoticism of some of the music that The Observatory has hosted in the resurgent Baltic Quarter of late. Their calendar is choc-full of slightly leftfield acts, and tonight’s headliner is no exception.
DÉBRUIT (Xavier Thomas) hails from the west coast of France and is, along with so many of his contemporaries, a musician, producer and DJ, a musical alchemist mixing up a potent blend of synth funk, hip hop, highlife and the Maghrebian styles of North Africa.
After support DJs warm the growing crowd to near Saharan standards, Debruit hits the decks and the remaining spaces on the floor are immediately filled. He goes straight into a pulsing synth-led overture which would not have been out of place in the early 80s before a droning oud takes us into more exotic territory. Some quick thinking and flexibility by the staff sees the removal of tables and benches, allowing for greater expression on the dancefloor, and the extra space is immediately utilised. Débruit’s website refers to a journey, to musical exploration, his collaboration with Alsarah is called Aljawal (The Traveller) and, as we move from the sounds of the Mahgreb to the more rapid-fire percussion and highlife guitars of Ghana and Nigeria, it is apparent that, if last night’s Nightmares On Wax set down the road was a journey through musical time zones, tonight we are travelling through space. From the Eurocentric opener we have moved directly south, through mountain and desert, until we reach Central Africa; a serendipitous aural tapestry is being woven from the old colonial trade routes.
This may not be the largest crowd he has played to but there is a vibrant energy in the room, reflected by Débruit himself as he moves ceaselessly behind the decks, rocking to the beats, tweaking and retouching his sonic palette. After a quick trip over to Latin America he brings the set to a rousing, horn-fuelled finale, receiving rapturous applause.
BREWSKI BEAT take to the decks to take it home. This slot could be the musical equivalent of the post-match warm-down, but not a bit of it: Brewski Beat keep the energy high with a vibrant mix of pop, electro and dub, the journey continues and the crowd respond – the dancers keep on dancing. Perhaps they’ll reach their destination.