11 a.m., a grey wednesday of november 2016. I was supposed to prepare for exams at my family’s home in southern France. Despite appearances, that day held something interesting: the ‘Outis Music Showcase’ live from Dommune Tokyo. I had conscientiously prepared my headphones and a cup a coffee, and was ready to enjoy great sets from Dino Sabatini and Claudio PRC.
Not long after the show started, I dropped the idea of studying and focused my attention on the music, the DJ-technique and especially on the respected Dommune live-chat. Between a track ID and some nerdy exchanges about deep techno, a guy named @LuigiTozzi joined the conversation.
At that time, I remembered that he was about to play at the end of the same week in a new club which had begun to draw attention: Elysia. Located in the city of Basel in Switzerland, at the frontier of Germany and France, the two-months-old club was hosting nothing less than “the best audio system in the universe” according to Italian artist Giorgio Gigli. If you’ve never heard of the venue, Groove magazine has dedicated an interesting & complete article on it.
But let’s come back to our live-chat: Luigi and I had a short talk about his upcoming gig there. He was going to play a 4-hour opening set. I thought, ‘I would love to be there, but hey – I have exams on the Monday, and Basel is almost 600 km away’. Literally impossible. Then the Dommune session ended, and I tried not to dwell on the idea anymore.
But on friday, everything was about to change.
Luigi sent me an innocent message, in which he kindly asked if I needed any spots on the guest list. Well, fuck real life obligations – that was a sign. I had to go. I immediately called my roommate and partner in crime Zoé to explain the situation, and two minutes later we were planning our techno excursion for the following day.
So, here we are. Saturday 05 November 2016, 1 p.m.. I took a train to Lyon in order to meet up with Zoé at our apartment. Two hours of rail and a quick warm up later, we were on the highway, heading north the car full of excitement, drinks, food, quilts and everything else needed to survive the next 24 hours. Outside, it was already dark with the rain falling hard, but nothing could have deterred us.
We killed the distance in 4.5 hours and crossed the Swiss frontier at 11 p.m. Luigi had just started his set, and we were still yet to find the club, apparently located in the middle of an industrial area. After almost losing our way in a labyrinth of warehouses and factories, we arrived at the Frankfurt-Strasse 37 and parked the car. 11:20 p.m. and we’d never been that close. We took ten minutes to enjoy a glass of gin and tonic and an ‘aromatized cigarette’ before leaving the car.
The street was silent, and a cold fog was rolling in on the buildings. We made a few steps to the entrance. Before entering the building, a couple of bouncers welcomed us with big smiles and perfect English (Basel is located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland). We entered. Delicious ambient music echoed in the corridor. Our jackets still on the shoulders, we had two options: the bar on the left, the dance floor on the right. We couldn’t wait any longer to discover that supposed magic room, especially while Luigi was playing. So we choose the right option.
11:33 p.m., the revelation.
We walked in the room, and were immediately faced by two towers of immaculate-white speakers. They occupied the full height of the floor, and diffused a crystal-clear sound that enveloped us as a soft blanket. People were sitting directly on the ground, some eyes-closed, some enjoying a beer, basking in this surreal set-up. There, we met with Sam, a Swiss friend who runs the great Prior Act podcast series. We all followed the movement and took a sit. The sound system was even more impressive from that point of view. It was like that feeling you get when you face a massive mountain. Signore Tozzi was on duty in the center of the room, focused, absorbed. He was mixing and superposing cold and organic pads to infuse a superb atmosphere.
After half an hour, we decided to grab a beer and have a look at the rest of the club. In our excitement, we had totally forgotten that Switzerland didn’t have the same currency as us, but the bartenders were nice and accepted our euros. Beer in hand, we went out for a cigarette. And there was another pleasant surprise: the terrace. Wood-built, it was illuminated by large candles that immediately reminded us of the well-known Labyrinth Festival. To counterbalance that shamanic ambiance, the spot offered a great view of the foggy industrial area. Mood.
When we went back inside, Luigi had started to drop the first kicks. The Hypnus adept unfolded a wonderful journey between dub and deep techno, alternating skilfully atmospheric and acidic tracks. The selection, as usual, was top-notch. I can only remember a few tracks he played that night, but one for sure still resonates in my body: Alienated 2B by Alien Rain, my all-time favorite acid techno track. That acid line, played on that sound system, at that precise time… I knew at that point that the journey had been 100% worth it. The music was running through our bodies and minds. What an experience. And to further heighten the track (which I thought was impossible to do), Luigi added the ambient part of Heruka 3 by his label brother Feral. Direct flight to heaven.
After that, everything went really quick. We danced and socialized til 7 a.m., then had a short nap in the car before driving back to Lyon, France. We arrived at our apartment in the early afternoon, put Deep Blue on the turntables, before finally dying on the sofa; stars in the head and smiles on the face.
Big thanks to Luigi, Patrick & the Elysia crew for the warm welcome and for having making this happen.