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Gig Review: Ulterior Motive [UK] @ Hide Club, Christchurch - 23/11/2019

16 Dec 2019 // A review by Gwarden
UK duo Ulterior Motive (JD & Morphex) have been producing intricate, heavyweight music for the better part of a decade now, with early releases on Subtitles before joining the Metalheadz family where they released their debut album Fourth Wall in 2014, and in the last few years forming their own imprint Guidance. Touching down in NZ in late November, read on to discover which Metalheadz classic JD dropped to a stunned and adoring Hide Club crowd…

The evening started on the right note driving down to the club listening to a guest mix from James aka JD on the RDU 98.5FM ‘Bassfreaks’ show, where it was evident from the deep selections and vibes that this would be a proper underground rinse-out. A change from the advertised line-up saw Christchurch veteran Mr Steel take over opening duties from Cream honcho Rydr. Steel has been holding down DJ duties since the 90’s, first for the OG Scientific crew and now on the long-running Friday night RDU 98.5FM ‘Metrobeatz’ show. A journeyman DJ with disciplined blending, he was the perfect choice for a night with a proper Headz vibe, warming up the Hide rig with ironclad selections such as tune of the year contender Salvation by Total Science, Digital & Spirit, and - via a close connection with expat Joe Moses (former Scientific boss) aka Need For Mirrors - a host of dubs including Wiggle VIP (now out on RAM Records).

In-demand DJ Broadcast continued proceedings, utilising a customary 3-deck setup to bring funky vibes and efficient, exciting blends to a rapidly filling dancefloor. Track highlights included a trio of tunes from masterclass producer DLR: the much-played remix of Total Science’s classic jump-up Nosher from himself, Spinback and Hydro (aka supergroup The Sauce), Electric Heroin off his standout Sofa Sound label, as well as the brilliantly groovy Song and Dance; on the deeper tip HLZ’s recent Eternal and Lenzman’s liquid staple Broken Dreams; and whipping both the crowd and this reviewer into maximum hype mode before the main act, the RAM XXV remix version of Ram Trilogy’s Milky Way.

With a massive crowd eager to get lost in the journey, Ulterior Motive’s JD stepped up to the booth armed with what he described as a USB “loaded with dubs” - standard practice for touring internationals no doubt but making this trainspotter reviewer’s job difficult in terms of track IDs. From his opening track, it was clear this set was going to be special - there’s an indescribable power when world-class DJ's play, whether from the audio engineer tweaking the levels to the max, the refined selections, or the accumulated experience of what makes a dancefloor move. JD had this in spades and rolled out a two hour set with thunderous bass, a properly dark but consistently funky vibe, tough future beats which perfectly represented the Metalheadz sound.

No foghorns or high-energy tech workouts here - “pure air-pushers” is how my notes described the luxuriously dubby, punchy bass. The look on ravers faces said it all, arms lifted in appreciation and lost in the journey. Crunching drop upon crunching drop with high quality transitions satisfied both the casual fan and chin-strokers alike, and I was lucky enough to capture a few behind-the-scenes IDs: a ridiculously heavy remix from Myth of seminal hardcore staple Dub War by Dance Conspiracy, and an unreleased collab between Krakota and Submotive entitled Tell Me. In more identifiable terrain, Jonny L’s 1998 release See Red did damage, as well as all-time favourite Metropolis, Adam F’s classic Metalheadz release that, even decades later, remains a high-water mark for the dark, intense, futuristic sound of drum & bass. I could hardly believe that 2 hours had passed when the set ended, testament to the journey all in attendance had been taken on.

Recluse took the evening home with a tight selection of both minimal rollers and more ruffneck tunes, a sweaty crowd slow to empty out. Overall, there was very little to criticise on the music side - a perfectly curated line-up, an epic 2 hour set from a top-class DJ, and absolutely proper vibes. My notes tell me that the drinks selection at the bar was lacking, but really, if that was my biggest complaint of the night, it’s hard to call it anything but a success.

 

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