Sven Vath @ Womb, Tokyo

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  • Hot on the heels of his latest ‘Sounds of’ mix CD, Sven Väth paid Tokyo a visit to give us a taste of the real thing. Proceedings started off in rather uninspiring fashion, with Dr Shingo yet again proving to be an inappropriate choice as the support DJ. On previous occasions Väth has played the whole night and hearing Shingo, you couldn't help but wish he'd decided to do an all-nighter again. It wasn't long until Väth hit the decks and the night really began. There was no messing about from Väth, signalling his intentions very clearly by starting with Ame’s ‘Rej’. Things progressed pretty logically from there, with a very consistent set of extremely fresh tech-trance being put together for about the next two hours. It was particularly noticeable how different this was to the electro-tech he has been championing over the last couple of years. If anything, the records he was playing represented somewhat of a throwback to the tech-trance sound he helped established back in the 1990s. What Väth did introduce to us, though, was anything but dated. Many of the tracks managed to successfully combine some really tough tech basslines with more trancish melodies and the occasional acid riff thrown in for good measure. This part of his set was encapsulated well when he dropped the huge 'Ihre Persönliche Glücksmelodie' by Gabriel Ananda (which he grabbed the mic for and very kindly announced to us). As the night progressed, the majority of the tracks retained the quality and interest of earlier on, but the set’s consistency did start to lack ever so slightly. The tech-trance of before remained, as he dropped some real monsters like the new Pig and Dan on Cocoon, but the track selection did start to vary more, from the dirty electro-tech of ‘Komm’ (Gregor Tresher remix), the abrasive punk techno of T.Raumschmiere through to the deep driving tech found in ‘The Tunnel’ by Richie Hawtin (a track which truly sounds amazing on a big sound system). Two other highlights were Kraftwerk’s ‘Numbers’ and Rolando’s ‘Knights of the Jaguar’ –tracks which were extra special because they aren’t what you’d imagine Väth would play. While the consistency found in the first half of his set was gone, the strength of the records he was playing did a fantastic job of creating a great vibe in the club. In the latter half of the night, the bond between the crowd and DJ grew stronger as Väth fed off the energy of those on the dancefloor. It was also great to see the way Väth attended to his audience. This was his party and he made it known who was in charge of making sure everyone was having fun, regularly looking around and making eye contact with people to check they were happy. Later on in the night, Väth even came down to dance and crowd surf. He maintained this vibe right until the end, when his set finished up with a new track he's co-produced with Anthony Rother and then the perfect closer - 'Marionette' by Mathew Jonson. After the conclusion of his main room set, the party moved upstairs where Väth played for about an hour, dropping a nice range of more chilled records. A particularly inspired choice here was Robert Babicz’s ‘Mister Head’ pitched right down. Things wrapped up shortly thereafter when Väth decided he'd done enough DJing for one night. While his after hours set was enjoyable, it was also tantalizingly short – it would have been great to hear him play some more down tempo stuff for a bit longer. Saying that, you can’t blame him for being a bit tired after DJing for over five hours. So all in all, this was most definitely a great night. Sven Väth did a great job of bringing the party. His mixing was rock solid, his track selection was very good and he let the records play out so everyone could enjoy them. The extra room on the dancefloor also helped make for an agreeable crowd and a special party vibe. Of particular interest was hearing the type of records Sven Väth played, especially in the first half of his set. As noted above, they were very fresh and clearly signal a new direction techno is heading. Now that the acid revival has just about run its course, from this night's performance it looks like techno may be gearing up to revisit the trance sound Väth helped establish back on his Harthouse and Eye Q labels in the 1990s.