Reviewed: Resonate at Café Artum/The Works
Café Artum is a new creative meeting place that has been opened right in the heart of Birmingham. Their concept is simple – art, records and coffee. After many of the City’s previous record stores closed a considerable time ago, this had left a void. With over 200 backers pledging £10,000 to help launch the project via Kickstarter, that sense of community that the shop wants to create is already on its way. Situated in a Victorian Grade II listed building the interior has a calm aura with a large glass frontage, hanging greenery and handmade fittings and furnishings. Sipping coffee from one of their unique mugs and sifting through their selection of vinyl featuring electro, techno, house, ambient and worldly electronica I was instantly hooked on my first visit in April.
Tonight the shop had a little bit of a different feel to it as it played host to a special in-store session for local promoter Resonate. Taking to the decks were UK electronic music legend Craig Richards and a man that knows Birmingham like the back of his hand, One Records boss Adam Shelton. As I arrived at the store, the usual tables and chairs where people relax had been taken out and become a small dance floor. The doors of the shop were wide open with a small crowd already gathered. A solid stone table played host to two Technics and a sublime rotary mixer. Resident and chief promoter of Resonate Jack D was warming up the crowd with spacey tunes like ‘Technology’ from Aux 88.
Resonate have been building a fresh new scene in Birmingham, at the forefront of the electro resurgence, bringing the likes of DJ Stingray to the city. Whilst those that have been following Adam Shelton will have noticed that his mixes, charts and sets over the past couple of years have been moving towards the sound. He is also one of the key contributors to the launch of Café Artum and as a lifelong collector, DJ, record label owner and party promoter, his influence is no doubt vital. It was Shelton next up on the turntables and the in-store really started to have a party feel, with people enjoying the music, chatting, listening to records and enjoying some of the local Dig Brew beers.
We were in for a treat when the unassuming Craig Richards then gave the packed out store a rare up close and personal glimpse into his collection. Stepping away from his long-running weekend residency at fabric, I know lots of lifelong clubbers and electronic music fans have been eager to see him in other venues and it felt great to see him at the controls in such intimate surroundings. A man who has an in-depth knowledge of club culture and music, he pulled out some of his electro favourites, an intriguing watch for the audience who were inside. It really felt like the space was creating what it had been intended for on this night. Bringing people together through a shared love of music, sharing and introducing ideas both new and old.
After the perfect warm up at the store, it was time to head over to the club night. Initially, it was due to be held at the famous Courtyard situated in Digbeth. However once again Birmingham Council had prevented this from going ahead. Fortunately, the Resonate promoters showed the determination and drive to keep the party going and moved the event to The Works, a space I had not visited before. You do have to question the motivations behind how the council’s decisions and it seems a real shame that so many great music venues are having restrictions placed on them.
Walking into the venue it didn’t disappoint, The Works is a larger warehouse space with high, brick walls and skylights in the ceiling. Kirsti was getting people moving to the floor and turning up the heat slowly, with music like the next release on her Null + Void label, the mesmeric and haunting ‘I Want You’ from Dead Sound. If you haven’t checked out Null+Void yet I highly recommend it and I picked up a copy of the first release earlier on in the evening from the crates at Café Artum.
Adam Shelton produced another quality set full of tracks that I’ve been really enjoying when I’ve heard them in some of his previous mixes. Serious electro and breaks weapons. His mixing and selection always on point.
With the energy in the room reaching optimum level Radioactive Man launched into a live set from his hardware located just behind the decks. Similar to Richards he is an artist who has outstanding roots in UK dance music. With his music spanning a multitude of genres and the list of gigs he’s played over the years endless, he showed Birmingham what he is all about, with a devastating set of techno and twisted electro with plenty of sub bass for the Funktion-One’s. His sets maintain that sense of groove and funk displayed tonight in tunes like the excellent ‘Jommtones’ from his recent album.
Closing out the night from 3:30 until dawn started to pierce through the skylights in the ceiling was the one and only Craig Richards. Bringing with him an arsenal of some of his finest cuts, he played a set that was a pleasure to witness. Moving through techno, electro, breaks and minimal with consummate ease, a real master of the craft. ‘ZY Clone’ from Vectorvision and Convextion particularly lapped up by the discerning crowd.
A fantastic night and evidence that Birmingham is really thriving right now. With a scene of art, music and culture that is being pushed ever forward by a group of like-minded people doing things in the right way.