Reviewed: Cartulis at FOLD
FOLD is one of London’s most exciting and forward-thinking new spaces, situated in an industrial wasteland in East London’s Canning Town, it brings 24-hour partying and liberating experiences akin to what may be found in fellow dance music capital Berlin to the city. With select promoters offering diversity and excitement, bringing some of the finest talent to the venue each weekend. Tonight it was the turn of the revered Cartulis brand who were hosting a lineup of some of Houghton festivals finest outer-worldly wizards of minimal techno and electro including: Nicholas Lutz, Omar, Michelle, Kino and Unai Trotti, following the sad cancellation of the festival over the weekend due to the predicted storms. All these artists hold close ties with the My Own Jupiter label that headliner Nicholas Lutz runs and have the trademark dark, cutting edge approach to the music they produce and mix.
Upon arrival at FOLD the atmosphere is immediately set; empty skips, concrete rubble and abandoned warehouses surround the lofty walls of the perimeter. Without any nearby residency, the setting makes for an immersive rave experience outside of the confines of normal reality. There is nothing to suggest that the shell of the building is a nightclub other than the small pocket of friendly but firm door staff under a tent at its entrance.
Taking a steel stairway up to the first floor, phone camera lenses are marked with a sticker to protect FOLD’s strict no filming policy. It was noticeable that this allowed the crowd to fully express themselves, focus on the DJ and not be worried about the prying eyes of the outside world, whilst also maintaining an atmosphere of unity and togetherness that is not always found in modern day clubbing.
The reigns continue to be let free, with a locker facility that enables those who wish to dance to the maximum for endless hours to leave their valuables in a secure location, which they can go back to as much as they wish throughout the duration of the party. Free water was readily available at the bar and although completely serious and professional FOLD is in how it approaches itself, a caring nature seems to also be at the core.
With one single main room the quality is at an optimum in all aspects, the capacity stands at 600 and therefore is compact enough to feel intimate, however with its high ceiling, walls and pillars held together with metal, it retains an almost intimidating feel, suited to the big room, thumping techno that is on display here every weekend. Lighting is expertly designed with piercing lasers and a projected backdrop that ebbs and flows into strange and curious patterns.
The 110-decibel sound system is crafted to perfection, custom built and can boast to be the loudest in London with no restrictions enforced on it. All the way to the back of the room the sound is delicious with crisp highs and rumbling low end and you can enjoy the music fully wherever you are positioned in the room. Throughout the night I moved into different spots within the dance and whether it be the delicate, intricate rhythms of Unai Trotti, or the punishing acid wonk madness of Nicholas Lutz, who pounded the speakers in the closing hours to a dystopian soundtrack, it all sounded just as good.
Even when you take a breather in the smoking area you feel as though you are detached from the world in a rave utopia, looking out at the distant lights of the city and a huge nearby pylon. The toilets retain this feel, with purple coloured glass panel windows cut into strange shapes that paint a picture of an obscure outside planet. Along the far wall, thin shutters begin to let the daylight in as the sun comes up and just when you think you are out of energy, this brings a new wave of magical life into the early hours, with everyone totally absorbed in the sounds.
After the heart wrenching disappointment of the Houghton cancellation, this Cartilus night turned out to be incredible and I felt such warmth from everyone, crowd and DJs, who partied and played with as much energy as they would have had they been on those grounds that we all treasure and love.
In a world where social media dominates, and video/photo content often seems to rule over authentic experiences, FOLD has injected lifeblood into a scene where people still value physicality and precious moments that remain in the mind. With another room soon opening alongside studio spaces this is just the start for the new brand that you should keep an eye on.