DC10. It’s a name that is uttered with reverence and perhaps just a touch of fear. Renowned for its infamous Circoloco daytime parties beginning in 1999, DC10 eschews the polished, glitzy feel of Ibiza’s other big clubs for a raw, simplistic and unrefined experience, but attracts some of the most exalted names in the business, and has grown to be one of the most influential techno clubs in the world.
My first visit to DC10 this summer was for the opening party of Jamie Jones’ much-loved A Planet Called Paradise, a night where Maya Jane Coles nearly caused an earthquake with her thundering set that easily goes down as one of the most memorable of the summer. During a Circoloco visit, I enjoyed fantastic tunes from the likes of Tania Vulcano, My Favorite Robot and Adriatique, and a second Paradise night was highlighted by a masterful, evolving set from Claude von Stroke. Dealing with overcrowding was a struggle at times, but that just highlights the level of respect these events have with the Ibiza clubbing masses.
Life and Death poised to offer something a little different. A five week residency curated by Italian duo Tale of Us promised to gather some of the world’s most innovative producers for a party celebrating a darker, more brooding brand of techno, playing to a smaller, more dedicated crowd with only the main room open. July 31’s opening party, in particular, packed a terrifying lineup; Tale of Us, Germany’s Recondite and fellow Italian duo Mind Against all rank among my absolute favourites. The lineup was rounded off by former Trouw resident Job Jobse, who I’ll admit to having little prior knowledge of, but plenty of faith given the company he was amongst.
Ibiza is the kind of place where you might not see a single cloud for three months straight, yet as I trudged down the Carretera de Las Salinas, a lightning bolt split the heavens. It was almost as if the universe was aware of the terrifying ridiculousness that was about to be unleashed, and was reacting accordingly. Somewhere hiding behind the storm lurked a blue moon. Very appropriate, I thought. This was going to be the kind of event that only happens once in a blue moon.
My schoolboy-esque excitement had reached fever pitch by the time I arrived to DC10 at the spritely hour of 11.10pm, just after the doors opened. In deference to Circoloco’s fancy dress tradition, I donned the grim reaper cloak I had picked up from a costume shop in Ibiza Town. As I strolled into the main room, I was greeted by Job Jobse laying down a sinister, throbbing bassline to… Erm, the bar staff. Unperturbed by being the first punter there, I staked out a slice of dance floor directly between the speakers and settled into a gentle, head-bobbing two step as Matteo and Carmine from Tale of Us busied themselves carrying their equipment inside.
Never particularly known for putting massive efforts into visual production (Circoloco has two banners and a simple laser setup), DC10’s dungeon-esque main room was actually looking very well-decorated in its own simplistic way. Candle-filled birdcages dangled from the ceiling, while the DJ booth had been set up to look like a kind of sacrificial altar, with dozens of candles and a (hopefully fake) ram’s skull. Delightfully eerie.
While Job Jobse’s set simmered away, the punters slowly trickled in. I found myself chatting to a couple of Geordie boys who had flown to Ibiza specifically for Life and Death – an impressive indication of the kind of crowd to expect. Delicate folds of bass washed around the room, while syncopated hi-hats and sparse guitar and piano sounds kept the creepiness going. By 1am, Job Jobse was playing to a nearly full room and as Mind Against stepped up to take his place, he was treated to a very enthusiastic ovation. As warm-up sets go, his was pretty on point.
Mind Against immediately turned up the tempo, but managed to do so without turning down the weirdness. They steadily built the bpm while laying down tracks with haunting violin melodies and white noise layered against relentless four-to-the-floor beats. The crowd responded with delight, swaying in cult-like unison as unreal track melted into unreal track. Mind Against almost lost their way around halfway through the set, briefly lapsing into a tedious buildup-and-drop routine, but regained a hold of things so seamlessly that everyone barely noticed. I’d love to tell you what they were playing, but I honestly have no idea and was enjoying the surreal horror movie soundtrack far too much to even think about reaching into my pocket to Shazam anything.
After two hours of steadily increasing the heat in the room, figuratively as well as literally, the Italians stepped aside for Recondite, at what would surely stand as the most interesting juncture of the evening. We’re talking about a producer who only plays his own songs, and whose name means “little known or obscure” – with a sound to match. He’s difficult to fit into any lineup, even one as underground as this. But I am an unashamed Recondite fanboy who listens to his albums and EPs incessantly; and having already been blown away by his set at the ENTER opening party four weeks earlier, I was brimming with faith.
Sure enough, he did suck some energy out of the room as he let the beat die out, leaving nothing but a distorted drone oozing out of the speakers for several minutes. A fellow raver next to me leaned over and said “He’s taking a massive risk here”, to which I replied “Recondite is a risky guy”. A look around the room affirmed that people’s attention had wavered; there was a lot of chit-chat happening and not much dancing.
The disinterest ended almost as soon as it started though. Recondite launching into the much-loved and very spooky Buteo was all it took to direct the full focus of the assembled army of techno warriors back towards him. The journey had taken a turn down a different path from Mind Against; less Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more The Grudge. The crowd surged with delight. Recondite moved into Cleric. The sounds were stark. The atmosphere was thick. The sweat started flowing.
Recondite’s live set left a quirky but pleasing impression before ringleaders Tale of Us with plenty of time to lead us towards the climax of this experience. They opened with their own, as-yet-unreleased monster track featuring four massive blasts of white noise and a dissonant, off beat violin stroke. The crowd began to heave. Sadly for me, my phone was buzzing. There had been a mix up over which roommates were going to which clubs and who had keys to get into the house, so I had to go to the rescue.
Despite enjoying the headlining act for a total of about two minutes, Life and Death had delivered absolutely everything I had wanted. A sublime journey into the beating black heart of minimal techno in Ibiza’s most notorious music dungeon. A carefully tailored clubbing experience. Even a bloody thunderstorm. As for the crowd, well I spent a good part of the night hugging and high-fiving people I’ve never met before over our mutual love of the music. And if that’s not what clubbing is all about, I don’t know what is.