Reviewed: Lenzman – Launch of Phonox Residency
After two blockbuster sold out The North Quarter takeovers at the venue last year, Friday saw label boss Lenzman return to the intimate dancefloor of Brixton’s Phonox for his first appearance of a 4-week residency. Both TNQ and Lenzman had yet another standout year at the very top of the Drum & Bass scene as the beloved Dutch label hit 2019 with a sonic masterclass of beautiful efforts from label favourites Anile, FD, Redeyes, SATL and a sublime vocal release from Manny-based Abnormal Sleepz, whilst Lenzman himself dropped one of the best LPs of the year – the critically acclaimed ‘Bobby’ on Metalheadz. After such a fine year, a stint at Phonox was the perfect way to kick off the new decade. The first night was curated with the TNQ sound we love so much in mind, seeing Submorphics, LSB and DRS (The Blue Hour showcase) and Lenzman and Fox all play extended 2 hour sets.
Arriving at the bustling Phonox space just after 10, we were welcomed by an array of sights and sounds from standout San Francisco talent Submorphics. Now hailing from the Netherlands, he released his ‘Detroit Haze’ EP on TNQ back in January 2018, whilst also appearing on the likes of Shogun Audio, V Recordings, Hospital, Metalheadz and more. The dancefloor quickly began to fill up, with Halogenix’s Solah-featured ‘Out Of Line’ rattling out of the speakers to a rousing reception, swiftly encountering the sunlight-drenched force of Tokyo Prose’s eclectic ‘Trick Of The Light’.
The buzz on the floor was building at lightning pace, with more punters filtering through the door as each track was sprayed out to the masses. After getting some air, we returned to a jam-packed room accompanied by the blistering, chopped breakbeats of Dub Phizix ‘Blossom’; the first reload of the night lapped up by the crowd. The angelic ‘Broken Home’ swept across the South London haunt, heralding in the stinking bassweight of The Sauce’s aptly named bludgeoner, ‘The Sauce’. Finishing his set, DRS led the rapturous applause for the opening Submorphics; a 2 hour rollout for the ages.
Up next on the wax were the sounds of the space age – the delectable dream team of LSB & DRS, fresh off the back of their incredible, encyclopedic ‘The Blue Hour’ project. The long-time collaborators have been working with each other for years now, and The Blue Hour goes a long way to proving they really are kindred spirits when it comes to the artform of Drum & Bass, as well as more melodic, ambient sounds. Kicking off one of the very best sets I’ve seen, 2017’s ‘Synergy’ collaboration from Alix Perez & Spectrasoul flexed the system, and two vital LSB productions, ‘Melrose’ and ‘Could Be’ tugged at the heartstrings, with DRS’s vocals on full show.
As the dance ebbed and flowed, the signature, droning intro of ‘Potshot’ began to fade into the mix, and the crowd readied themselves. Expecting the original or the Voltage dub, we were treated to a brand new remix from Anile, instantly drawing the reload to cheers from all corners of the club. Jackuum. More Anile productions followed, namely the dastardly humdinger ‘Riggers’, ‘Lost Sections’ and the DRS-featured favourite ‘Constant Reminder’. LSB dug deeper into the record bag, drawing for DLR’s long-awaited remix dub of Future Cut’s techy 2004 bouncer ‘20/20’, before the familiar chords and flutters of ‘The View’ arrived, with the crowd bursting into song. This pairing never fails to amaze me, LSB’s blends and position as a tastemaker are second to none, and DRS’s supreme ability as an artist, host, MC and all-round micman is a rare package that I’m always humbled to witness.
As the clock struck 2:00, it was time for the big boss himself, Lenzman, accompanied by the multi-talented crooner and ‘the man that puts the MC in Manchester’, Fox. After seeing them both on the Adriatic Sea (b2b w/ Redeyes & FD) for the TNQ boat party at Outlook Festival, this set was eagerly anticipated by all on this special night. The crowd was full of energy, and raring to go, and Bredren’s 1985 roller ‘Undress’ precisely encapsulated the vibe. Alix Perez’s esteemed ‘SWRV’ was let loose, and chaos ensued as Pola & Bryson’s famed ‘Circles’ bootleg cannoned out of the subs, firstly intertwined with the rumbling swoons of ‘Instant’ from Calibre, and then left to roll out in all its goodness on the second bassline. The anthemic ‘Still Standing’ left a lasting impact on the awestruck listeners, and as the instrumental drums rolled out Fox provided the mesmeric vocals from his ‘I Wonder’ collab with IAMDDB.
One of the reactions of the night went to perhaps my favourite track at the moment, ‘Your Moves’ by Workforce, which signalled the arrival of Lenzman’s ‘In My Mind’, his own track with DDB. This was doubled with Calibre & DJ Marky’s ‘Amen Tune’, and ‘Trick Of The Light’ received another play, highlighting how great that cut really is. Now really in the swing of things, the energy grew to fever pitch as Lenz pitched in one of the lead licks from his latest LP, ‘Rain’, which features gorgeous vocals from Children Of Zeus. Moving towards the end of the night, we were blessed with one final gift; a brand new percussive soundwave from Perez, DLR and Fox that sent Phonox into pure hedonistic meltdown. Headtop business. What a night, and what a start to the residency. I’m sure all in attendance will agree this was a special, special bucket list night, expertly curated by Lenzman.
Grab tickets to the remaining events here