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Review: Transmoderna is Dixon's playground at Pacha

The Innervisions boss makes no compromises during his Ibiza residency

  • Johnny Ibiza
  • 14 August 2019

Transmoderna is Pacha's new Friday night party residency curated by Innervisions' boss, Dixon. The buzz surrounding this event has been steadily building since the start of the season. Which is why we decided to drop by on August 5 to critique this latest instalment of Dixon's epic 20-week run.

Standing in the queue, the first thing we notice is that English voices aren't in the majority tonight. German, Italian and Russian accents are just as plentiful. But the largest proportion of the crowd are Spanish, many of them locals.

Inside the venue, Pacha's whitewashed walls have been brilliantly corrupted to negate the Balearic discothèque vibe and make the party feel more mysterious. Aesthetically it's not Berghain by any stretch of the imagination, but the general ambience looks and feels authentically raw and essentially underground in terms of tone.

Among the creeping shadows, 500 early-bird ravers are already on the dancefloor stomping around to John Talabot, who has just dropped 'African Woods' by Fraffo. John's output is typically mesmerising and eclectic. Contemporary disco records like Jasper James' 'Dirty Wrong' merge with more esoteric cuts. And then suddenly we're jigging around to Manu Djbango's reworked blues masterpiece, 'Soul Makossa'.

Musically, however, the Transmoderna remit is fundamentally melodic deep tech. You can hear similar sounds broadcasting on the island at Afterlife at Hï and also on Sunday nights when Solomun hosts his +1 residency here at Pacha. But where Tale of Us have a penchant for sci-fi moods and Solomun relies on groove to pull together the narrative of his sonic story, Dixon and his guests have a preference for melancholic minor chords.

Above the DJ booth where John Talabot is holding sway, a gigantic mock quartz crystal dangles, its jagged silver contours shimmering in the strobe light. The rest of the décor is a mismatch of themes. Think organic fabrics used to create industrial designs. And most interestingly, the Transmoderna podium dancers are all wearing 'normal' clothes. But this is no error; it's all part and parcel of the Transmoderna philosophy to do things a little differently.

"We live in the 21st Century," says Transmoderna promoter, Dominik Ceylan. "We wanted to create a mixed media experience and with it a vibe for everyone to feel comfortable. We don't want to make drastic changes to the essential components of a club night, but we do want to bring something new to the table. A lot of people are trying to work with obvious formulas that will work in Ibiza. Which is great, but we wanted to try something new while working with the situation you find on the ground in order to create a beautiful experience for everybody without compromising on our ideas and the music. That's what we've learned most of all since we opened in May."

Dominik goes on to explain that Transmoderna is not in any way a solo project. And it’s not a short-term project either. He and his team were working closely with Pacha before the season started and this practice hasn’t changed during the summer. Moreover, he promises us that Transmoderna will be given time to grow. Both he and Pacha have a long-term vision for Transmoderna that will enable the party to evolve naturally.

Later in the night, former Moloko singer-songwriter Roisin Murphy materialises in the booth like a vision. Roisin likes to DJ as well as sing, but matching beats is not currently her main objective. Tonight this cool-as-fuck Irish woman is performing a live PA loaded with self-penned club bangers like 'All My Dreams', many of which have been recalibrated and layered with squelchy synth sounds to make them suitable for a post-midnight party environment. Right from the offset the 1500-strong crowd are transfixed on Roisin as she unveils a repertoire that somehow manages to straddle the vastly different realms of pop and underground club music without sounding muddled or cheesy.

After Roisin has wrapped up her superstar performance we set off to explore the venue. Pacha's alfresco garden is open. And so too is the legendary Funky Room. The vibe here is sexy, spontaneous, flamboyant and fun. We even spot a few famous DJs hanging out beside the booth.

Whenever you rock up to a party in Ibiza and see big name DJs among the crowd it's always a good sign. DC10 is a renowned haunt for industry types. Bedouin at Heart is also a big draw. Likewise DANCE OR DIE at Ushuaïa. And it looks as if we can add Transmoderna to that list.

Acid Mondays spinner Alex Wolfenden is one of those DJs enjoying the party. Alex tells us that he's here to seek out and listen to new and obscure cutting-edge music, in addition to acclimatising himself with what Dixon and his team are doing here at Pacha.

"I actually played here a few weeks ago," Alex explains. "I warmed up for Pvblic Xcess. I was playing disco and house music, but in this room you can more or less get away with anything."

At 4am we head back downstairs to the crowded Main Room dancefloor where Dixon is closing out the night. 'Knusperstück' by Villon sounds dreamy on Pacha's recently installed D&B Audiotechnik sound rig - pure sonic ecstasy, in fact. And now the Transmoderna frontman drops an even bigger treat - Espen & Shane Robinson's soaring, trance-tinted masterpiece 'In Time'. Completely unaffected by changing tastes or time, it's hard to believe that this record is almost five years old.

As we glide blissfully into the last hour of the party, Dixon's output gets deeper and tougher. This is the Innervision's boss at his very best. He's a peak time purveyor of spine-tingling minor chords and progressive track structures that ebb and flow. Anticipate some vocals here and there. Occasionally a pure techno record thrown in for good measure and even a little pinch of acid to switch things up. But he's always high energy from start to finish. It's a fine mix and ultimately what we're all here for - to embrace and enjoy this brand new and entirely epic psychedelic techno trip out at Pacha, where avant-garde underground parties are starting to dominate the weekly roster.

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