- Nikita Velichko visits Mutabor, the new superclub causing a stir in the Russian capital.
- Several Moscow clubs have closed their doors in recent months, but a new key player has also emerged. Mutabor, which is run collectively by the promoters Arma, Rabitza, System 108 and The Volks, has been described by the organisers as a "cultural center," though, in essence, it's a hotspot for electronic music lovers. Within the first month, the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Vera and Kangding Ray played there, joined by Russian acts such as the Gost Zvuk crew. Its early success shows that solidarity across different promoters and communities is the best way for the local scene to survive.
On my way from Dubrovka metro station to the European Bearing Corporation building, where Mutabor occupies a former machinery plant, I noticed some groups had been turned away by the bouncer—to give yourself the best chance of entry, you should look sober, dress appropriately and know what you're going to see. Once through the entrance, I arrived at the μ stage, a yard with lit-up trees, unusual furniture and some old machinery. A Soviet mosaic sat above the door leading to the main building, with factory workers depicted as ancient gods. Inside the lobby was a telephone box with a poster of Rabitza's Нейронный Лом party, which was cancelled the day after the club was raided.
Tonight's party was TEST, a series of large raves run by System 108 featuring headline acts and light installations. In M, the main dance floor, which drew inevitable comparisons to Berghain, it was all about audiovisual shows and four-on-the-floor techno. After Nonotak's set, which featured two figures onstage, light beams moving all around them, a smoke alarm suddenly went off. Everyone calmly moved to μ, where we caught a glimpse of Geju playing ambient before returning to M for Mujuice. At 2 AM, the first steady thump rolled through the room, eliciting cheers. Boston 168 kept things banging, serving up uncompromising techno with trippy acid lines. The Italian duo let the tension build and build before unleashing the booming kick drums, the audience clapping along to their complex rhythms. Next came Nazira, who squeezed every ounce of energy out of dancers with a set of rough acid breakbeats.
Another great dancing spot was the smaller m stage on the ground floor. Clone Records hosted a takeover, describing the party later on Facebook as having "proper warehouse vibes." At around 7 AM, I got a surge of energy after hearing Lokier play The Mover's remix of "Trappist" by Cassegrain. Frustratingly, I didn't get to see Serge Clone because he clashed with Matias Aguayo, though I don't regret my decision—Aguayo's live set of kaleidoscopic tropical tunes, complete with polyrhythms and vocal samples, was totally refreshing. He appeared at μ right after sunrise. The setting, which sat in stark contrast to the rest of the venue, matched the music, with the crowd rocking away beneath foliage. Old tracks such as "El Sucu Tucu" blended dub and Latin sounds. Most people listened with big smiles, though dancing to such colourful psychedelia was tricky. Even so, his set definitely felt like the night's highlight.
Test lasted 25 hours. While I was there, I read a mixture of excitement and slight disbelief on people's faces. Mutabor, which translates from Latin as "I transform", takes the best from Arma (massive, imposing) and Rabitza (homely, wacky decor), while also delivering something new. After everything Moscow nightlife has faced in the last few years, the club feels like the start of something promising.
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