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A Magazine for Sheffield

Listings / Faction / David Thomas Broughton.

3rd June.


Reviewer - Ben Dorey.

All eyes were on the DLS complex yet again over the Jubilee weekend in Sheffield as the first installment of Faction, a collaboration between Collect!, Drumro[ll] and Cargo, saw the entire CADS building opened up for the first time for a massive party. There was a day event too at the Shakespeare, which I was unfortunately unable to make, but if you attended both start to finish you could enjoy 18 hours of house and techno with two days of holiday to recover. A rare occasion indeed. Anyway, to the music.

The line-up reflected the varied nature of the nights collaborating for the event, with music ranging from deep house to tough techno with a lot filling the ground in between. Though there was no one name that particularly grabbed my attention, you can't really argue with the quality of a line-up that contains Deetron, Mike Denhert and Redshape just for starters. All of them are at the forefront of movements in techno at the moment. With Move D and Slam representing the slightly older guard, the difficulty often lay in deciding which room to occupy, as bouncing to and fro rather defeats the point of watching well-built sets.

I ventured into the techno room first and arrived just in time to catch the start of Redshape. Playing live as far as I could tell from the back of a heaving crowd, his set was intricate and heavy, often at the same time. Fat analogue synths grooved nicely over tough percussion and the sense of progress in his set was enjoyable, but for quite a few moments he deemed it appropriate to throw some questionable vocal loops into the mix. For me this detracted from the overall atmosphere of the affair, though it brings him in line with a lot of current fashions in techno.

Redshape was followed by Slam, figureheads of the hard-hitting Glaswegian scene. Sounding incredible beefy through the new drivers in the resident Dangernoise rig, they got a rather heavily intoxicated bank holiday crowd going for it with their hard and fast brand of techno, constantly up-pitching drones and lashings of white noise escalating excitements levels constantly. You could accuse them of being a little obvious with the rare melodic elements of their set, but I don't think many people in the room cared by that point.

For me, Mike Denhert's set was the highlight of the night. The head of the Fachwerk imprint laid on a truly broad spread of everything from (actually) deep house through Lindau-style hip shakers into big room techno; all with an enviable ability to create ebbs and flows that meant the blends were smooth but at the same time always leading in unexpected directions.

Upstairs Deetron was playing, and unfortunately there was an exodus to the big name which led to the room emptying for Denhert. The music from the Swiss hero was not at all bad, though unexpectedly some of the mixing was. Still, it should be about the tunes and here you couldn't really fault him, playing warm, Detroit-influenced modern house classics, bits and bobs of bassier stuff and throwing in a decent serving of melodies to round off one of the biggest parties Sheffield has seen recently.

Sheffield has witnessed an influx of international techno artists in the past couple of months, notably Stingray, Ryan Elliott and Luke Slater in addition to those on this bill. Let's hope it continues.


6th June.


Reviewer - Jordan Cullen.

One look at R.M. Hubbert's tattoos and gruff visage and you may be surprised by the delicacy of his acoustic lilting and the self-effacing humour of his stage presence. "That's the happy songs out of the way... I'm afraid there are no happy Scottish singer-songwriters", he jokes, and amidst his evocative strumming, infused with both Catalonian and Gaelic colours, he becomes remarkably candid about the often painful inspirations for his writing. The Greystones is the perfect setting for such a hushed performance and Hubbert appears entirely at home throughout.

David Thomas Broughton's stage act is gaining notoriety and his breaking down of the fourth wall is truly individual. He walks amongst the audience, warbling in a voice somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Stuart Staples, uses beer mats and flyers as percussion, kicks over mic stands and sings whilst lying on the floor. The effect is mildly disconcerting, and might even come across as self-indulgent were it not for the apparent sincerity of Broughton's theatrics; even the most stripped-down of singer-songwriter performances can still be interesting.

As for Broughton's music, it would be easy to file him under 'nu-folk', but the complex structure of his soundscapes introduced on 2005 debut The Complete Guide to Insufficiency, utilising complex tape loops and discordant feedback amongst quieter acoustic moments of great beauty, sets him apart. His show is performed as one lengthy, uninterrupted symphony, and whilst the seamlessness is impressive, the presentation occasionally overpowers the lyrical beauty of songs such as 'Ambiguity' and 'Perfect Louse' ("Oh for the lengths I have had to go and the further pains of my expression/ I want you to expect that they play to your virtues/ but like the muck-peddlar I have devised the ruin of your purity...").

Fortunately, amongst the Laban body movements, conducting of invisible orchestras and unabashed fiddling with ancient Dictaphones, the grace and eccentric beauty of Broughton's songwriting shines through. Consensus, then: his live show is an unforgettable evening, but it may be best to familiarise yourself with Broughton's esoteric song structures before sampling his stage performance.


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