Berlin wAes treated to a double blow of forward-thinking producers at Icon on Friday night, from the glossy Hip Hop jams of Parisian Onra, and genre- (and frequently tempo-) defying bass merchant, Actress.
Up first was Onra, reliably delivering his smooth, Vandross-evoking bangers to a curiously apathetic room. Despite sub-par sound quality, however, he kept the crowd moving with a set largely based on tracks from his latest offering, 2010′s superb Long Distance.
The mood in the venue changed markedly once Actress took over, firing up a bassy snarl. Locked in a staring contest with his laptop, portions of his set almost felt like a challenge to the audience, daring them to dance to his ever-changing sonic tapestry.
This was no chin-stroking affair, though. The hooded Londoner’s visceral performance rapidly traversed 80s analogue horror soundtracks, choppy, upbeat garage vibes, industrial breaks, bloopy low-bit house and pure noise, but all in a discernibly calculated manner. Nods of recognition passed through the crowd as one tune disintegrated into standout track Maze, with its throbbing bassline and haunting melody.
Despite not offering the traditional Friday night fare for this city, Actress’ set offered all the catharsis of a dirty night out, with all the menace and aggression that really has to be felt in the ribcage.